NEW YORK (AP) — Final winter, the U.S. tourism business fretted that Trump administration insurance policies may result in a “Trump hunch” in journey.
However these fears could have been untimely. Worldwide arrivals and travel-related spending are up in 2017 in contrast with the identical interval in 2016.
There may even be a “Trump bump,” says Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Journey Affiliation, a nonprofit representing the journey business.
A couple of months in the past, Dow and others warned that President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and ban on journey from a handful of largely Muslim international locations may ship an anti-tourism message.
However “impending doom hasn’t manifested itself,” Dow mentioned in an interview. “Proper now we can’t establish a loss. It’s opposite to every part we’ve heard, however journey is in barely higher form than it was a yr in the past. Everybody needs me to inform the story of the sky is falling, however for the journey business, the sky is just not falling.”
Newest numbers from the U.S. Journey Affiliation’s Journey Traits Index confirmed 6.6 % development in worldwide journey to the U.S. in April and 5 % development in Could in contrast with the identical months final yr. The Journey Traits Index makes use of lodge, airline and U.S. authorities knowledge.
Particular person sectors have excellent news, too. Lodge occupancy for the primary 5 months of 2017 was “larger than it has ever been earlier than,” mentioned Jan Freitag, senior vice chairman with STR, which tracks lodge business knowledge. American Categorical Conferences & Occasions has “not seen a slowdown in both home U.S. conferences or worldwide conferences from the U.S. prior to now six months,” in response to senior vice chairman Issa Jouaneh. Even New York’s Nationwide September 11 Memorial and Museum has extra worldwide guests: 554,381 on the museum Jan. 1-July 11, up from 517,539 the identical interval final yr.
Florida’s Orlando Worldwide Airport, a gateway for theme park guests, reported development for home and worldwide passengers yr to this point, although Go to Orlando CEO George Aguel mentioned it was “nonetheless untimely to find out a particular impression” from Trump administration insurance policies.
Worldwide journeys are sometimes deliberate months upfront, so selections made this yr about journey might not be evident but.
“For us, we already deliberate earlier than the election,” mentioned Alban Michel, ready with a bunch of Swiss vacationers to see One World Commerce’s observatory in New York on Monday.
Firms that observe on-line habits say searches for U.S. journey are down. But tour firms that carry foreigners listed below are “not solely holding yr over yr, however in lots of circumstances they’re having a report yr,” in response to Chris Thompson, CEO of Model USA, which markets the U.S. to the world. Thompson thinks it’s “too early to inform” how the business will fare, including that the journey business’s ups and downs could have “little or nothing to do” with Trump and extra to do with the robust greenback and lackluster economies elsewhere.
Requested if there’s a “Trump hunch” in journey to the 12 Southern states marketed by Journey South USA, CEO Liz Bittner mentioned, “The reality of the matter isn’t any. I believe it was lots of media hype.” Bittner agreed that the problem for U.S. tourism “isn’t a lot Trump. It’s the robust U.S. greenback in opposition to a number of the different currencies,” which makes the U.S. an costly vacation spot for foreigners.
Daniele Biron, an Italian visiting the 9/11 memorial Monday whereas in New York for a convention, agreed that “the worth of the greenback” is an element for a lot of vacationers, however “I don’t know if the politics” matter to most guests.
Isabelle Bornemann, proprietor of Alaska Journey Connections, mentioned her worldwide group bookings are down 30 %, primarily due to the robust greenback. However some European journey companies inform Bornemann the choice to remain away is political, based mostly on the notion that foreigners aren’t welcome within the U.S.
Charlie Mallar, proprietor of the 1785 Inn in Conway, New Hampshire, had his busiest July 4th weekend in 34 years, however says “international guests have been off a bit — Trump impact. Now we have to guarantee international guests that they’re welcome in America.”
The Journey Traits Index predicts slower development for the remainder of 2017, however nonetheless almost 2 % larger than final yr by means of November.
New York Metropolis’s tourism company, NYC & Firm, predicts that 300,000 fewer worldwide vacationers will go to town this yr than final, in response to spokesman Chris Heywood. Issues about Trump administration’s insurance policies embody “rhetoric surrounding the journey ban, laptop computer bans on sure airline carriers and the specter of having guests reveal social media accounts,” together with “the dearth of a proactive welcome message on behalf of the nation,” Heywood mentioned. New York has put up its personal indicators saying “New York Metropolis – Welcoming the World” in England, Germany and Mexico.
Complete worldwide arrivals knowledge from the U.S. Commerce Division takes seven months to compile, so it will likely be subsequent yr earlier than definitive 2017 statistics can be found. However the Commerce Division has seen a 5 % enhance January-March over the identical interval final yr in collections from ESTA charges, that are digital journey authorization charges paid by foreigners who don’t want visas to enter the U.S. That implies elevated visitation from visa-waiver international locations like the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia.