LOS ANGELES – For travelers from other countries looking for vacation spots, the United States may no longer be top of mind. A new report blames President Donald Trump’s policies for hurting international tourism to the U.S.
The study cited what it called the “Trump Slump” in California tourism in particular. Jim Doyle, president of the Business Forward Foundation, which produced the report, said in the first six months of 2019, international tourism worldwide grew at a rate of 3%-4%. But in the U.S., it contracted by 1.7%.
“Calling Mexicans ‘rapists,’ a trade war with China, has hurt America’s market share around the world,” Doyle said. “Millions of jobs and billions in income, and no state’s paying more than California.”
The report said President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, visa rollbacks and tariffs on Chinese goods have combined to create a negative impression that drives foreign tourists away. The president has defended his policies saying they are designed to protect national security and correct trade imbalances.
The report said foreign tourism is the nation’s number two export – second only to transportation equipment. And in 2018, 18.1 million international tourists spent more than $28 billion on travel in California alone.
Doyle said other countries will benefit when tourists don’t feel welcome or safe in the U.S.
“Eighty percent of travel to the United States is for pleasure, not work,” he said. “So, these are people who can switch their ski trip from California ski resorts to Canada ski resorts pretty easily.”
The report showed the United States’ overall share of international tourism is falling. And had its share remained steady from 2018, this year alone the nation would have seen an additional 59 billion tourist visits, generating $14 billion in revenue and supporting 120,000 jobs.