Tove, a tourist roaming Times Square last week, had just come to the U.S. for the first time from Norway. But she was hesitant to comment on the political climate.
“I didn’t think Trump would be the president and I didn’t think the American will support him,” she said
When asked about her thoughts on his proposed ban on immigrants from Arabic nations associated with Islam, she took a long pause.
“It’s Trump,” she finally replied. “He’s a very strange person.”
President Trump’s travel ban has been halted for now, but New York City’s tourism market is already paying the price.
NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism organization, revised its 2017 forecast after the inauguration, and is now expecting the number of foreign visitors to plummet by around 300,000 guests.
“With all the rhetoric and imposing these impediments on international travel and proposing them, people are concerned what their experiences may be at the border,” said Chris Heywood, Senior Vice President of Global Communications for NYC & Company.
In March, Hosteling International USA (HI USA), a nonprofit which owns a large hostel on Amsterdam Ave. and 103rd St., suffered a massive cancellation for this summer of around 1,000 beds due to a group of international visitors’ concerns about entry into the U.S.
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Despite widespread backlash against the travel ban within New York, certain hostels were reluctant to comment on the travel ban.
HI USA President and C.E.O. Russ Hedge did not respond to repeated requests for comment. HI USA spokeswoman Netanya Trimboli said HI USA’s international visitors in New York have consistently accounted for 67 percent of their total customers since 2015.
But NYC & Company has projected a decline in international visitors and a rise in domestic travel instead.
Heywood said his organization is concerned about President Trump’s policies and the perception of the U.S.
“Words matter and people have extraordinary decisions they can make among travel destinations,” he said. “Those destinations that portray a welcoming image will perhaps have a competitive advantage.”
The organization is “advocating striking a balance between secure borders and open doors,” Heywood said.
To tackle the city’s image crisis, NYC & Company is spearheading a new international marketing campaign to advertise abroad with colorful images of Lady Liberty against the city skyline captioned “New York City Welcoming the World.”
Heywood said marketing New York as a destination is difficult now, and while the city has a lot to offer, the future remains uncertain.
“We are second to none when it comes to our product,” he said. “The question is, will that be enough to overcome the perception challenges that we’re facing?”
Matt Roth, General Manager at The Local NYC, a Long Island City hostel, also refused to discuss the travel ban.
“At The Local NYC, we like to stay neutral on matters related to politics and religion,” he said.