Will Overseas Travel Warnings Hurt US Tourism?
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Travelers to the U.S. find themselves in a curious situation this summer as more and more countries have issued travel warnings in response to a growing list of concerns.
In addition to anti-LGBT sentiments and the recent emergence of Zika in Florida, countries have warned of xenophobia and recent mass shootings. For example, the United Arab Emirates' embassy in Washington, D.C. issued a warning last month encouraging travelers to "stay away from any ongoing or planned demonstrations and protests in cities around the United States" following a deadly attack on police officers in Dallas.
Concerns regarding anti-LGBT attitudes stemming from controversal bathroom laws passed in Mississippi and North Carolina also prompted Britain's Foreign Office to issue an advisory earlier this year.
While the warnings are piling up, and include advisories from countries like France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand, State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner maintains that the U.S. is a "first-rate tourist destination."
"We value the enormous economic benefit that foreign tourists bring to the United States each year," Toner told USA Today.
Although it's far too soon to know whether the warnings have hurt U.S. tourism, managing director of Scotland-based international tourism consultancy Yellow Railroad Tom Buncle told USA Today that "all of the warnings that come from specific instances add up and can potentially erode the positive image of the U.S."
However there's no debating the significance of tourism to the U.S. economy, with an estimated 77 million foreign travelers contributing approximately $218 billion to the country's economy in 2015, according to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council and the State Department.
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