Fewer Foreign Tourists Are Coming To The United States, Travelers Cite Trump Policies, Fears Of Gun Violence

'Someone should care about this as much as they care about U.S. auto manufacturing or agriculture,' says a tourism industry analyst.

a traveler at an airport looks at her options
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'Someone should care about this as much as they care about U.S. auto manufacturing or agriculture,' says a tourism industry analyst.

Fewer foreign tourists are visiting the United States, even as the global economy is booming and more travelers are vacationing abroad, The Stamford Advocate reports. Travelers ditching the U.S. from their destination plans cite Trump administration policies and fears of gun violence for looking elsewhere.

The Good News

For the most part, international travel is up, as more people have more money to spend, and that includes spending it on travel abroad. According to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization, 1.4 billion people visited foreign countries in 2018, up 6 percent from 2017, and that number is expected to grow in 2019.

The Bad News

They’re not coming to the United States. At least, not as many as in previous years.

In the U.S., foreign travel is down by 1.7 percent in the first half of 2019, according to preliminary data from the Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office. That figure may seem trifling, but Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, says that the issue needs to be looked at, and soon.

“Someone should care about this as much as they care about U.S. auto manufacturing or agriculture,” he says.

China’s Role

Much of the drop in foreign tourists has to do with the fact that fewer Chinese tourists are coming here. While all foreign tourism into the U.S. is down by only 1.7 percent, tourism from Chinese tourists is down 5.7 percent, even as the travel industry had expected to see double-digit growth in tourism from China.

a camera and photos on a table, firguratively representing the concept of travel
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So why are Chinese tourists eschewing the U.S.? Much of it has to do with the fears of gun violence. Earlier this summer, China warned its citizens against traveling to the United States, citing gun violence and robberies. Later in the summer, following two mass shootings in a matter of days, Amnesty International, as well as the governments of Uruguay and Venezuela, warned against traveling to the U.S. because of gun violence.

David Huether, of the travel-industry trade group U.S. Travel Association, says that it’s easy to equate fears of gun violence with a drop in foreign tourism. But he’s not 100 percent convinced that gun violence is the whole story.

“It’s easy to believe that incidents like these could have an effect on travel, but we can’t at this point conclusively say based on the data that’s available. We are going to be exploring ways to see if we can measure that,” he says.

Huether also says that there are likely larger issues at play. He says that some foreign tourists are concerned about visiting the U.S. because of its immigration policies or pulling out of the Paris Accord. Huether also thinks that some foreign travelers are skipping coming to the U.S. on moral grounds.