Donald Trump’s actions on immigration have led to “anti-US sentiment” around the world that is predicted to result in significant falls in travellers visiting the country in 2017, according to a global tourism body.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said recent moves by the new US administration, such as attempts to impose a travel ban on some countries, will have the “unintended consequence” of fewer tourists entering the United States this year. The strength of the dollar is another major reason behind a chilling effect on inbound travel to the country.
The prediction is based on “early signs” of falling traveller interest. Flight search data collected by travel software group ForwardKeys suggests airline bookings to the US were down 6.5 per cent in the week after President Trump issued his first executive order against the entry of citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, which was later blocked by the courts.
When the new administration attempted to introduce a second revised order last week, a federal court in Hawaii blocked the move again. One of the arguments raised by the State of Hawaii in requesting a temporary restraint on the travel ban was the expected damage to its tourist industry.
“[The ban] had an unintended effect in sending out a message to the whole of the world that the US is not as open for business and is now starting to be unfriendly,” said David Scowsill, president and chief executive of WTTC.
The London-based organisation, which represents travel companies worldwide, produces an annual “Economic Impact Report” alongside Oxford Economics, the research and forecasting group.
This year’s report suggests that the travel and tourism sector, which contributed $1.5 trillion to the US economy, or 8.1 per cent of its GDP, will grow at a pace of 2.3 per cent in 2016 – a slowdown of 0.5 per cent compared to a year earlier. Spending by foreign visitors in the US predicted to fall by 0.6 per cent, mainly due to the strength of the dollar which is making the country a less attractive spending destination.