By Alana Wise
NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters) – International travel to the United States in the month of April rose four percent year over year, an industry group reported on Tuesday, however the group cautioned that a strong dollar and uncertainty about the Trump Administration‘s policies could discourage foreign visitors in the months ahead.
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Data released on Tuesday by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), in partnership with Oxford Economics, showed stronger-than-expected April demand despite the initial messy rollout of President Donald Trump‘s order in January barring travel to the United States from several Muslim majority countries. That order has been stayed by a number of federal courts, and is now awaiting a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
April is the first month when data on international travel would reliably reflect the impact of the controversy over Trump’s order, the U.S. Travel Association said.
“There have been many claims that the administration’s actions on travel have tarnished America‘s brand abroad, but we’re seeing hard economic evidence of the U.S. travel sector’s remarkable resilience,” USTA Chief Executive Officer Roger Dow said in a statement.
However, the full report cautioned that international travel to the United States in April grew at “a slower pace than the six-month moving average” and may have been helped by holiday travel. “Looking ahead, a variety of factors, including the strength of the U.S. dollar, a fragile global economy and a turbulent political environment are expected to negatively impact international inbound travel.”
The group projected total U.S. travel volume is expected to grow by an average of 1.8 percent year-over-year through October of 2017, despite a forecast decline in international travel.
While the airline industry is on track for an eighth successive year of profitability, travel industry executives gathered for a conference in Cancun, Mexico this week expressed concern that potential U.S. restrictions on travel would undercut their business.
“Any barrier to borders, we consider as a threat,” International Air Transport Association director general Alexandre de Juniac told reporters ahead of the meeting. IATA represents some 275 airlines from across the globe.
De Juniac has also expressed concern about a Trump administration order barring large electronic devices, including laptop computers, from the passenger cabins of planes headed to the United States from certain Middle Eastern countries.
(Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Joe White and Diane Craft)