International Travel To US Drops Precipitously Under Trump

Will Racke | Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Travelers are avoiding the U.S. in favor of other overseas destinations as a drop in foreign tourism that began in late 2016 has worsened under the first few months of the Trump administration, according to a new analysis from Foursquare.

The travel search-and-discovery firm found the U.S. “market share” of international tourism started to decline in October 2016, when it fell by 6 percent year-over-year. The slide continued through March, when there was 16 percent less foreign travel to the U.S. than in the same month the year before.

Foursquare used its own search data, normalized against U.S. government statistics on international arrivals, to determine the U.S. share of foreign tourism versus the rest of the world. Over the period from October 2016 to March 2017, the share of international tourism to leisure destinations in America saw an average decrease of 11 percent year-over-year, according to the Foursquare analysis.

The loss of foreign tourism isn’t part of a larger worldwide trend of declining international travel, says Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck. Reduced tourist activity in the U.S. comes amid an increase in the share of visits to leisure locations in other countries.

“The U.S. is losing tourist activity to foreign destinations,” Glueck wrote in a blog post accompanying the analysis. “Share of visits for leisure categories in other countries is up year-over-year by about 6 percent, by definition at the expense of the U.S. since we are talking about market share.”

While the Foursquare report didn’t identify one specific cause for the decline in foreign tourism, Glueck noted a disproportionate loss in tourists from Latin America and the Middle East, two international regions the Trump administration has targeted with tough rhetoric and proposed travel restrictions. (RELATED: DOJ Will Seek Supreme Court Review Of Travel Ban)

“It goes without saying that some of the current administration’s most controversial policies have been focused on countries within the Middle East and Latin America, and that we’re seeing a greater impact in travel from these nations,” he wrote.

Exchange rates could also be contributing to decline, as a relatively stronger dollar causes foreign travelers to seek more affordable options overseas. The dollar has been up about 3 percent year-over-year in the past two quarter while the value of the Euro has declined, making European travel slightly more attractive, the report noted.

Foursquare didn’t project the overall impact a sustained drop in foreign tourism would have on the domestic economy, but the analysis noted that international travelers generally make up about 11 percent of all visits to leisure destinations or activities in the U.S.

As a result, the year-over-year drop in the U.S. share of international tourism represents an opportunity cost of about 1.2 percent to U.S. shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions, the report said.

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