Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency by promising he would bring Americans jobs, jobs, and more jobs.
Instead, jobs have flowed from the auto industry, manufacturing and more to Mexico, China and elsewhere; but no industry has been harder hit by the Trump effect than tourism.
The Trump Slump has cost the U.S.economy in the past year over $4.6 billion and led to the loss of at least 40,000 jobs since Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, according to a report by NBC News.
“Exports say that Trump’s proposed travel bans and anti-immigration language have had a negative impact on the U.S.’s attraction for foreign visitors,” reports NBC News, “in addition to a weaker dollar and heightened security measures.”
In the past year travel spending in the U.S. has fallen by 3.3 percent and there has been a 4 percent decline in inbound travel, according to new data from the National Travel and Tourism Office.
America has also lost its claims to be the world’s second most popular destination for foreign travel. It has now been overtaken by Spain.
“It’s not a reach to say that the rhetoric and policies of this administration are affecting sentiment around the world,” Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics told The New York Times, “creating antipathy toward the U.S. and affecting travel behavior.”
In the first quarter of 2017, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, there was a drop of 697,791 international visitors to the U.S. compared to the same period in 2016 when President Obama was seen as welcoming the world.
Visitors from Mexico, a particular target of Trump, dropped 7.1 percent, and visitors from Europe fell by 10.1 percent in the first quarter. There were even larger drops in visitors from the Middle East and Africa, which is significant even though the total number of visitors is lower.
That alone meant a loss of $2.7 billion in spending, according to numbers from Tourism Economics, a branch of Oxford Economics in Wayne, Pennsylvania, according to the New York Times.
By comparison, in the first quarter of 2013, after President Obama was re-elected, international tourism rose 6.4 percent.
In a survey of people in 47 nations by the Pew Research Center released in June, 49 percent of those surveyed had a positive view of the U.S. compared to 64 percent at the end of President Obama’s term in office.
Pew found that South of our border, two-thirds of Mexicans had a negative opinion of the U.S. which is more than double what it was two years ago under President Obama.
The New York Times asked Europeans on Facebook to share their reasons for not making a tourist trip to the U.S. or canceling planned trips.
“We are British Muslims and live in London,” responded Sabaa Farrukh. “We wanted to visit NYC this summer but decided against it simply because we felt we wouldn’t be welcome there and didn’t want to waste precious holiday time in case there was a problem at passport control at the airport.”
A woman from Denmark responded that she was concerned about violence and safety.
“I have always dreamed of visiting the U.S.,” wrote Marika Treichel, “but the rise of gun violence and political chaos has made me want to cancel all future travels to the U.S. until I can feel safe as a tourist.”
There is a debate about whether the strong dollar is a factor and some places have not seen as sharp a decline, but Leigh Barnes, regional director for Intrepid Travel, told The New York Times that what they have seen is a major decline of 24 percent in future bookings.
“Given the current political and social climate,” reported Barnes, “now is an especially important time for the travel industry to stand for open borders, inclusivity and the celebration of diversity.”
Open borders, inclusivity, and diversity are all the antithesis of what Trump represents, and there is no indication that will change as long as he is president and the Republican conservatives control Congress, so projections for the non-polluting, lucrative tourism industry will continue to be very negative.
Trump’s tax giveaway to the rich may help send wealthy Americans out of the country for vacations but there is no counter-balance that will encourage people to come to the U.S. where the fear of gun violence is very real and racism and xenophobia are on the rise.
The only thing that can help revive the American travel business would be to send Trump on a permanent vacation.
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