Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies have scared foreign tourists away from the U.S., costing $4.6 billion and 40,000 jobs in the process, NBC News is reporting.
Ever since Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, the so-called “Trump Slump” has hurt the U.S. tourism industry. A year later, the numbers are in: a 3.3 percent drop in foreign tourism spending, a 4 percent drop in inbound travel, and $4.6 billion in lost spending, which translates to a loss of 40,000 American jobs.
What’s more, the U.S., once the second-most popular country for foreign tourism (France has held the No. 1 spot for years), is now third, behind Spain.
Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics, said that Donald Trump is essentially scaring away foreign tourists.
“It’s not a reach to say the rhetoric and policies of this administration are affecting sentiment around the world, creating antipathy toward the U.S. and affecting travel behavior.”
Trump’s policies are also having a more direct effect on inbound tourism, says Slate. Thanks to Trump’s “chaotic” Muslim travel bans, would-be visitors from the countries included in the bans have been essentially forbidden from coming to the U.S. Even those not specifically indicated in the travel bans have been leery of coming to the U.S. for fear of being turned away.
At least one American city is trying to turn things around, according to an April 2017 Slate report. Los Angeles unveiled a tourism campaign, “Everyone Is Welcome,” which eschews the traditional tourism commercials. Rather than focusing on sights that might draw tourists — the Hollywood Sign, Disneyland, and so on — the ad celebrates the city’s culture and diversity. It’s a not-so-subtle jab at Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, says Slate.
The U.S. tourism industry is taking a more at-large approach. Jonathan Grella, executive vice president of public affairs for the U.S. Travel Association, tells the Los Angeles Times that the agency is launching a program, called “Visit US,” designed to draw foreign visitors back to the U.S.
Not all analysts blame Trump’s rhetoric for falling tourism to the U.S. There’s also the matter that the U.S. dollar has been particularly strong recently, according to Reuters, meaning that foreign tourists get less American money to spend when they convert their home currency to greenbacks. That translates to less spending power when they get here, and may keep foreign tourists from coming here in the first place.
About half of all foreign tourists come to the U.S. from Canada and Mexico. Europe, Japan, China, and Brazil account for most of the other half of foreign visitors.