Trump affects America’s tourist business the way we expected


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❝ Trump Tower, in midtown Manhattan, has become a modern-day Mount Vernon. Tourists have long visited George Washington’s homestead. Now they venture through Trump Tower’s brass doors to ogle the decor—“it’s so gold,” said a German teenager standing near the lobby’s waterfall on a recent afternoon—or buy souvenirs. The Choi family, visiting from South Korea, wandered the marble expanse with their new “Make America Great” hats (three for $50).

❝ The question for America’s hoteliers and airlines is whether such visitors are just anomalies. A strong dollar is one reason for foreigners to avoid visiting America. Donald Trump may prove another, suggests a growing collection of data. Yet measuring the precise impact of Mr Trump’s presidency on travel is difficult. In addition to the currency effect, many trips currently being taken to America were booked before his election. Marriott, a big hotel company, reported an overall increase, compared with a year earlier, in foreign bookings in America in February.

But Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s boss, has voiced concern about a potential slump in tourism. In February, ForwardKeys, a travel-data firm, reported that in the week after Mr Trump first tried to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, international bookings dropped by 6.5% against the same period in 2016. Hopper, a travel app, found that average daily searches for flights to America have declined in 99 countries since Mr Trump tried to issue his travel ban, compared with the last weeks of Barack Obama’s term. Russia is one of the few places where demand has risen…Tourism Economics, a forecaster, expects 2 million fewer foreign visits to America this year, a 1% drop from 2016. Without Mr Trump it had expected a 3% jump…

❝ The industry has been here before. International tourism in America slumped by around 3% each year from 2000 to 2006. Most analysts blame not only the attacks of 2001 but stricter visa rules and anti-American sentiment abroad. Countries that had the dimmest view of America, according to surveys during that period, tended to see drops in travellers there, says Adam Sacks of Tourism Economics. “We are facing a potential rerun,” he says…

I’m not surprised. Are you? I expect the most insular, if not xenophobic of Trump voters will think the question unimportant. Some people hate realtors. Some people hate travel agents. Usually for not very well thought-out reasons.

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