U.S. tourism declining as new report confirms predicted ‘Trump Slump’
The number of international travelers to the U.S. has dramatically declined in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, according to a revised report by the U.S. Travel Association.
The Travel Trends Index, released Tuesday, shows a sharper decrease in international visitation than was originally estimated after evaluating newly available data. To compile its data, the report tracks flight and hotel bookings, plane boardings and other data.
The previous report from early July claimed there had been 13 straight months of year-over-year growth. However, upon revised analysis, the new report shows a dip in four of the seven months evaluated thus far, with the steepest decline in February (down 6.8 percent) and March (down 8.2 percent).
“We kept projecting drops in international visitation, and they kept not materializing,” David Huether, U.S. Travel Association Senior Vice President for Research, said in a statement. “However, we recently were able to access new data inputs for the TTI to give us an even more comprehensive picture, and sure enough, the international travel segment has been far weaker than what was initially shown.”
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This decline comes as no surprise for many who were predicting a “Trump slump.” After his inauguration, Trump immediately tried to ban visitors from Muslim-majority countries as well as pledge to finally build the wall along the Mexican border he’d promised during the campaign. According to The Economist, within months of Trump’s election, several online travel firms, including Kayak and Hopper, reported that fewer people were searching for flights to America.
The U.S. also dropped two slots in its international ranking of desirable tourist destinations according to the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report in April, USA Today reports. Japan and the United Kingdom both climbed ahead of the U.S., which ranked sixth on that list.
“We are going to be left behind” without changes, said Patricia Rojas-Ungár, vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Travel Association, to USA Today. “This pie continues to grow. Our slice is getting smaller if we don’t go after it.”
The U.S. Travel Association says there are still things Trump can do to attract foreigners, like backing “Brand USA,” the country’s tourism marketing organization, as well as supporting open-skies agreements and the Visa Waiver Program, which allows certain nationalities to enter the country without first obtaining a visa, The Economist reports.