The 1 Thing That’s Making Tourists Avoid America Right Now

two tourists with a map

Tourism is down in the United States. | beer5020/iStock/Getty Images

America has always been a hugely popular destination for tourists from other countries. With such wonders as the Grand Canyon, Disney World, and the home of the entertainment industry, it’s no wonder that America has consistently been the second most popular destination to travel to in the world. That is, up until last year. Tourists are avoiding America right now, read on to find out why.

1. Tourism is down in the U.S.

The New York Times reports that the U.S. Department of Commerce shows a drop in American visitors as of 2017. In the first quarter of last year, about 700,000 less people visited than the previous year.

Overall, 697,791 fewer foreigners visited the United States in the first three months of the year, down 4.2 percent to 15.8 million,” said The Times. “According to Tourism Economics, a branch of Oxford Economics based in Wayne, Pa., that analyzes travel data, the drop represents a loss of nearly $2.7 billion in spending.” Though tourism from European countries and Mexico are down, the largest drops are from the Middle East and Africa. 

Next: Tourism in America wasn’t always down. 

2. Tourism in America through the years

people visit Disneyland and walk over the commemorative bricks

Tourism had been rising since 2002. | Meinzahn/iStock/Getty Images

According to United States Tourist Arrivals, American tourism has been steadily rising from about 2002 onward. That is, until the beginning of 2017. As you can see in this graph, there are definitely some dips and valleys along the way, but, for the most part, America has successfully grown in tourism over the years.

Next: Not as much travel to the U.S. is bad news for our economy. 

3. What that means for our economy

a camera and notebook spread over a map

The decline in travel is hurting the economy. | Fly_dragonfly/iStock/Getty Images

This travel slump is costing the U.S. $4.6 billion and 40,000 jobs, says the U.S. Travel Association. Additionally, the data shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending as well as a 4 percent decline in inbound travel.

“Travel had outperformed overall U.S. export growth during the prior five years; the industry generated an $87 billion trade surplus in 2016, without which the U.S. trade deficit that year would have been 17 percent higher,” says the U.S. Travel Association.

Next: Who the U.S. lost our second place ranking to 

4. The most traveled to countries

Girl taking a picture in Paris by the Eiffel Tower

France is the top travel destination. | encrier/iStock/Getty Images

America used to be the second most popular travel destination in the world, but has since lost its spot. The most traveled to country in the world is France; Spain is now in second place, and America is third, with China and Italy following.

Next: The “Trump slump” 

5. Could Trump be the cause?

Donald Trump frowning

The slump in tourism has coincided with Donald Trump’s presidency. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Several news sources are calling this sudden drop in American tourism the “Trump slump.”

“The drop coincides with President Trump’s low international approval ratings,” says the Boston Globe.

“The United States has long been a bucket-list destination, but as executive announcement piles on executive announcement, international visitors are wary of choosing the tourism-behemoth for their next vacation,” reads Forbes.

Next: Here’s what the experts think 

6. What the president of Tourism Economics thinks

senior couple reading a map while traveling

Some think government policy and rhetoric are affecting people’s willingness to travel to the U.S. | jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images

“It’s not a reach to say the rhetoric and policies of this administration are affecting sentiment around the world, creating antipathy toward the U.S. and affecting travel behavior,” says Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics.

Additionally, Leigh Barnes, the regional director for Intrepid Travel, made a point to mention the importance of the travel industry standing for open borders.

“While the U.S. government has been the source of a lot of negative media attention this year, the travel industry must continue to stand for open borders, inclusivity and the celebration of diversity,” she said in an email to NBC.

Next: We have a plan to get tourism back up again.  

7. How to get tourism back up again

Two women looking at New York's skyline

The U.S. plans to lobby for visitors. | oneinchpunch/iStock/Getty Images

Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the U.S. Travel Association, Jonathan Grella, told the LA Times that the declining travel numbers are an “undeniable wake-up call that we must turn this into a national priority.”

The plan? The U.S. Travel Association is going to launch a “Visit U.S.” lobbying campaign. The campaign will involve American businesses sending the message to other countries that we welcome foreign tourists.

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