USA fails to keep pace with global tourism boom
By Maria Sheahan
BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States is missing out on a global boom for tourism, hurt by a so-called Trump slump and currency exchange rates, travel industry experts said at a gathering in Berlin this week.
While U.S. President Donald Trump maintains that the travel ban blocking visitors from nations including Iran, Libya and Syria is needed to protect the United States from Islamic militants, the bans have raised concerns over America's image as a welcoming country, with data showing a decline in tourist numbers last year.
International arrivals to the United States were down 4 percent in the first three quarters of 2017, Trump's first year in office, according to the most recent data available from the United States.
By comparison, international tourism arrivals worldwide in 2017 were up 7 percent, representing the strongest result in seven years, figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show.
"Politics is not helping us," said Tilo Krause-Duenow, owner of German tour operator CANUSA, which specializes in trips to North America.
"The potential for the U.S. could be much bigger. Prices have come down due to the currency weakening and we should have seen a much bigger increase in demand," he told Reuters at the ITB travel fair in Berlin.
German market researcher Gfk says that bookings from Germany to the United States are down 20 percent for the 2018 summer season, though it said this could be down to factors such as last year's hurricane season and foreign exchange rates as well as the Trump effect.
Flight bookings to the United States fell 2 percent in 2017 and were flat in the first two months of 2018, a report by travel analysis company ForwardKeys showed this week. The report cited a weaker British pound, which makes it more expensive for Britons to travel abroad, and Trump's travel ban.
America's hopes of improving its reputation as a foreigner-friendly destination look to have been dented further this week, with Trump's imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on Thursday raising fears of an international trade war.
SPENDING POWERRead More...