U.S. Tourism Declining, But It’s Not Because of Trump

Media dub drop in tourism that began under Obama 'Trump slump'


The United States is seeing a decline in tourism, though media outlets blaming President Donald Trump are ignoring that the drop preceded his presidency.

Travel to the United States increased between 2010 and 2015, but began declining in 2015. The trend continued in 2017, and now media outlets are branding the steady decline as the "Trump slump."

The U.S. share of the international travel market declined from 13.6 percent in 2015 to 12.9 percent in 2016. By 2017, it had dropped to 11.9 percent, back to levels not seen since 2010, according to U.S. Travel, a nonprofit group representing the American travel industry.

At the same time, global long-haul travel increased by 7.9 percent. The roughly 7.4 million fewer tourists traveling to the United States means the economy has lost $32.2 billion in traveler spending and 100,000 fewer jobs created, according to the group.

The reasons for the decline are varied, and largely due to a strengthening dollar, making travel to the United States more expensive for foreigners, Travel and Leisure reported.

"Some have dubbed the decline in foreign tourism the ‘Trump Slump,' citing the administration's January 2017 ban against travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries," the magazine wrote. "But the number actually began decreasing back in 2016. (A record was set in 2015 when the United States welcomed 77.5 million foreign visitors.)"

"Tourism has a special ability to transcend politics," Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, told the magazine. "The United States continues to be an aspirational destination. What happens in Washington has an effect but so do many more things."

Along with growth of the dollar in recent years, economic growth, and increased competition, the United States is a more expensive tourist destination.

"When it becomes more expensive to visit a country, fewer tourists arrive," Travel and Leisure said.

In addition, the United States saw unprecedented growth in tourists from China and elsewhere in 2010 that was "unable to sustain itself." New airline routes under Open Skies treaties have also given tourists more options to visit destinations outside of the United States.

Nevertheless, numerous media outlets have blamed Trump, though the decline preceded his election as president and has been driven by other factors.

MSNBC's Ali Velshi referenced the "Trump slump," even after acknowledging "some" of the decline began after 9/11.

"While travel went up for several years, it's been declining in the United States," Velshi said. "It got really serious after the election of Donald Trump."

During the end of the Obama administration travelers started choosing to go elsewhere. Since 2015, the United States has seen fewer travelers from 9 out of 10 nations who travel most to this country. Travel from the United Kingdom dropped by 14 percent, from Germany by 15 percent, Brazil by 25 percent, and France by 21 percent. The only country to not decline in travel to the United States was South Korea, which remained at the same rate.

While the United States has seen a 6 percent decline in long-haul travel since 2015, other nations have seen stark increases, including countries in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia experienced a 20.3 percent increase in long-haul travel, and the United Arab Emirates a 16.5 percent increase.

The travel industry is concerned about losing billions in tourist revenue, leading trade groups to launch a new coalition to boost travel to this country.

The Visit U.S. Coalition is seeking to partner with the Trump administration to return America to a more competitive travel destination. The coalition includes the American Gaming Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, National Restaurant Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Travel Association, and others.

Elizabeth Harrington   Email Elizabeth | Full Bio | RSS
Elizabeth Harrington is a senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Elizabeth graduated from Temple University in 2010. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she worked as a staff writer for CNSNews.com. Her email address is elizabeth@freebeacon.com. Her Twitter handle is @LizWFB.

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