Trump blow to tourist industry feared
Donald Trump’s immigration policies have fuelled anti-US sentiment that is expected to lead to falls in traveller numbers to the country, according to a tourism body.
The World Travel and Tourism Council said moves by the US administration, such as attempts to ban travel from certain countries, would have the “unintended consequence” of fewer tourists entering the US this year.
The strength of the dollar was another factor discouraging inbound travel.
The findings come as groups such as Hilton Hotels, Marriott International and Inter Continental Hotels Group battles lowing growth in revenue per available room in the US.
The WTTC pointed to “early signs” of falling traveller interest based on flight search data collected by travel software group Forward Keys.
Airline bookings to the US were down 6.5 per cent in the week after Mr Trump issued his first order against the entry of citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, later blocked by the courts.
When the administration sought to introduce a revised order last week, a federal court in Hawaii blocked the attempt. One of the arguments raised by the state was the expected damage to its tourist industry.
“[The ban] had an unintended effect in sending out a message to the whole of the world that the US is not as open for business and is now starting to be unfriendly,” David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the WT TC, said.
Arne Sorenson, chief executive of Marriott, in September warned that rising nationalism “could have a profound impacton travel”.
The WTTC annual report forecast that the travel and tourism sector, which contributed $1.5tn to the US economy, or 8.1 per cent of gross domestic product, would grow at 2.3 per cent in 2017, a contraction of 0.5 percentage points compared with last year.
Spending by foreign visitors in the US was forecast to fall 0.6 per cent, mainly due to the strength of the dollar.
The WTTC said travellers would seek alternatives, with the most likely beneficiaries being Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
In the UK, the WT TC forecast a 6.2 per cent rise in spending by international visitors this year, as tourists take advantage of the weak pound.
The global travel and tourism sector grew 3.3 per cent in 2016, generating $7.6 tn, the sixth straight year of growth.
Southeast Asia is the fastest growing region.
The strong dollar is among factors discouraging travel to the US