VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – International tourism numbers seem to be taking a hit in the United States as more travelers avoid Donald Trump’s America.
Tourism from abroad is worth $133 billion annually in the US, and the Boston Globe reports interest in airline bookings to the States has dropped significantly since President Trump signed his first travel and immigration ban targeting seven mainly Muslim countries on January 27.
While that executive order has become mired in the courts, the White House is now working to issue a revamped ban next week and The Globe reports Trump’s protectionist sentiments appear to be behind a 6 to 17 per cent drop in searches for flights to the US on some booking websites in recent weeks.
“We are talking about a very large market, probably 77 million tourists a year” says Lindsay Meredith, a marketing professor at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. “Do the math, that’s a big number. That’s why about 130 companies have filed lawsuits against Trump, all of them are very much hooked up to the tourist industry and they are losing money.”
Meredith says it’s a fear issue for many travelers, concerned they will be targeted by border and immigration officials.
“So rather than being afraid of being tangled up, they are going to choose other countries. Tourism means you get to choose where you spend your money,” he tells NEWS 1130.
“I hope Premier Christy Clark and the feds are listening. They should bump up the Canadian tourism budget. You could pick up a lot of action because the Americans have dropped a serious ball here.”
Meredith believes Victoria and Ottawa should be spending more on international advertising to promote BC and Canada as attractive tourist destinations.
“The first thing you do when you see your competitors screw up ‘bigly’ is you move in and scoop up as much as you can in a hurry. Mexico stands to gain as well. These are other big foreign destinations behind the US and there is an opportunity here.”
Travel experts quoted in the Boston Globe believe Trump’s travel ban could be as damaging to the US tourism sector as the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Just last week, the US Travel Association reported that in 2016, the number of international tourists had finally returned to pre-Sept. 11 numbers.
The paper reports the recent decline in interest in travel to the US has rippled to nearly every region of the world.