Tourism to the U.S. has dropped since President Trump took office, and the effects aren't just a few slower nights at the Times Square Olive Garden: New data shows the decline translates to a loss of 40,000 jobs and $4.6 billion in spending.
New data from the National Travel and Tourism Office shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending and a 4 percent decline in visits from abroad, NBC News reports.
Travel experts say U.S. tourism started dropping soon after the Trump administration began. The president's anti-immigration rhetoric had a chilling effect, along with his initially thwarted travel bans, which resulted in chaotic, widely broadcast images of U.S. visa holders detained in airports. Heightened security measures also played a role.
“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,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, which analyzes travel spending.
In the first three months of 2017, travel to the U.S. declined 4.2 percent. Travel from European countries declined 10 percent, and travel from Mexico declined 7 percent. In the first quarter of 2013, after the re-election of Barack Obama, travel to the U.S. increased 6.4 percent overall.
America is now the third-most-visited country in the world, ceding the No. 2 spot to Spain. (France is No. 1).
"The New York Times" reported that on its Facebook page, European readers "overwhelmingly" blamed the Trump administration's policies for the decline.
“We are British Muslims and live in London,” wrote one woman. “We wanted to visit N.Y.C. this summer but decided against it simply because we felt we wouldn’t be welcome there and didn’t want to waste precious holiday time in case there was a problem at passport control at the airport.” A woman who lives in Denmark wrote, “I have always dreamed of visiting the US. But the rise of gun violence and political chaos has made me want to cancel all future travels to the U.S. until I can feel safe as a tourist.”
Yesterday, it was reported that a new Trump administration policy would cause job losses in another U.S. industry. A proposed 30 percent tariff on solar panels manufactured overseas would result in 23,000 fewer U.S. solar jobs because of a decline in investment, industry officials said. Solar installer is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the energy sector.