PHOTO: Donald Trump's administration is damaging the U.S. travel industry. (photo via Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
Donald Trump’s rhetoric and travel bans have done quite the job, because now apparently nobody wants to come to America.
Tongue-in-cheek hyperbole aside, travelers will still enter these great United States and sample all the riches it has to offer. But reports continue to show Trump has had a significant impact on national tourism, and it’s rarely good news.
The Los Angeles Times cites a Tourism Economics report that estimates about 1.8 million fewer visits from Mexico into the U.S. this year, which represents $1.1 billion in losses to the industry.
The news is far worse when you look beyond our neighbor to the south. CNN Money also points to Tourism Economics’ report and forecasts a seven percent decrease in visits from International visitors and an $18 billion hit. More specifically, this means 10.6 million fewer visitors and the possibility of losing 107,000 jobs.
Late last month, U.S. Travel implored the president to pivot, or at the very least explain his thoughts behind his policies: “Mr. President, please tell the world that while we’re closed to terror, we’re open for business. Imbalanced communication is especially susceptible to being ‘lost in translation’—so let’s work together to inform our friends and neighbors, who could benefit from reassurance, not just who is no longer welcome here, but who remains invited.”
And, according to the LA Times, there are a wealth of prospective visitors from Mexico who do not feel all that invited.
While a strong dollar certainly plays into the lack of Mexican tourists flocking into the country at the moment, the report quotes various people who have decided to travel elsewhere until this Trump cloud passes over.
Frequent visitor Rafael Sifuentes Barba tells the publication flatly, “I decided not to go until anti-Mexican sentiment decreases.”
Edgar Solis, president Metropolitan Assn. of Travel Agencies in Mexico City, explains: “They don’t feel welcome. In Mexico, there’s a dislike of the administration and that’s created a reduction of passengers to the U.S.”
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According to Tourism Economics, the trend, at least between Mexico and the United States, will continue. It foresees a loss of 2.6 million visits and $1.6 billion just from diminished Mexican interest alone.
Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson hardly minced words recently when discussing Trump’s policies and their effect, calling them, “not good, period.” Sorenson explained the bans, the policies and rhetoric all amount to big business leaving these shores for the immediate future.
He explained to The Financial Times, via Newsmax, that “companies and conferences were also choosing to host events in other countries due to the uncertainty over restrictions on entry.”
Sorenson continued: “The [new U.S. administration’s] actions around travel are not helpful. There’s no doubt about that. There’s no way to anticipate that they will be good news.”
The U.S. brand has taken a tremendous hit said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, via CNN Money: “The travel ban, such as it is, would affect less than 0.1% of all visitors. But the whole rhetoric around it has damaged the U.S. brand as a destination. It's a very discretionary market. It takes very little for them to shift their travel plan and preferences.”
Sadly, you can lump in the U.S. travel market with Trump University and Trump Steaks on the list of brands that have faltered with Trump at the helm.
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Cesar Romero is the president of GMA, a group of travel associations. He explained to the LA Times that it can come down to word of mouth: “Stories circulate that the revisions have become more exhaustive for Mexican travelers. People say that they ask for your iPad and phone, they investigate the type of messages you have sent and no one likes it. I have been to the U.S. and I haven’t seen any revisions like those, but there are people who say that yes, it’s happening.”
As echoed in the reports, travelers, have an abundance of options. The United States hasn’t closed its doors; it’s just not as enticing as it was a few months prior.
For many, it’s easier to travel domestically or finally enjoy Europe than it is to test the tumultuous waters at American security checkpoints. Sure, one may get in and get out without the least bit of difficulty, but many may be thinking: Why go where I'm not wanted?
Well, you are indeed wanted here. Hopefully, in time, Trump’s administration can do a better job illustrating that sentiment.