cloudy
Friday July 21st, 2017 6:44PM

No Trump slump in tourism but there could be a Trump bump

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — Last winter, the U.S. tourism industry fretted that Trump administration policies might lead to a "Trump slump" in travel.

But those fears may have been premature. International arrivals and travel-related spending are up in 2017 compared with the same period in 2016.

There might even be a "Trump bump," says Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, a nonprofit representing the travel industry.

A few months ago, Dow and others warned that President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and ban on travel from a handful of mostly Muslim countries could send an anti-tourism message.

But "impending doom hasn't manifested itself," Dow said in an interview. "Right now we cannot identify a loss. It's contrary to everything we've heard, but travel is in slightly better shape than it was a year ago. Everyone wants me to tell the story of the sky is falling, but for the travel industry, the sky is not falling."

Latest numbers from the U.S. Travel Association's Travel Trends Index showed 6.6 percent growth in international travel to the U.S. in April and 5 percent growth in May compared with the same months last year. The Travel Trends Index uses hotel, airline and U.S. government data.

Individual sectors have good news, too. Hotel occupancy for the first five months of 2017 was "higher than it has ever been before," said Jan Freitag, senior vice president with STR, which tracks hotel industry data. American Express Meetings & Events has "not seen a slowdown in either domestic U.S. meetings or international meetings from the U.S. in the past six months," according to senior vice president Issa Jouaneh. Even New York's National September 11 Memorial and Museum has more international visitors: 554,381 at the museum Jan. 1-July 11, up from 517,539 the same period last year.

Florida's Orlando International Airport, a gateway for theme park visitors, reported growth for domestic and international passengers year to date, though Visit Orlando CEO George Aguel said it was "still premature to determine a specific impact" from Trump administration policies.

International trips are often planned months in advance, so decisions made this year about travel may not be evident yet.

"For us, we already planned before the election," said Alban Michel, waiting with a group of Swiss tourists to see One World Trade's observatory in New York on Monday.

Companies that track online behavior say searches for U.S. travel are down. Yet tour companies that bring foreigners here are "not only holding year over year, but in many cases they're having a record year," according to Chris Thompson, CEO of Brand USA, which markets the U.S. to the world. Thompson thinks it's "too early to tell" how the industry will fare, adding that the travel industry's ups and downs may have "little or nothing to do" with Trump and more to do with the strong dollar and lackluster economies elsewhere.

Asked if there's a "Trump slump" in travel to the 12 Southern states marketed by Travel South USA, CEO Liz Bittner said, "The truth of the matter is no. I think it was a lot of media hype." Bittner agreed that the challenge for U.S. tourism "isn't so much Trump. It's the strong U.S. dollar against some of the other currencies," which makes the U.S. an expensive destination for foreigners.

Daniele Biron, an Italian visiting the 9/11 memorial Monday while in New York for a conference, agreed that "the value of the dollar" is a factor for many travelers, but "I don't know if the politics" matter to most visitors.

Isabelle Bornemann, owner of Alaska Travel Connections, said her international group bookings are down 30 percent, mainly because of the strong dollar. But some European travel agencies tell Bornemann the decision to stay away is political, based on the perception that foreigners aren't welcome in the U.S.

Charlie Mallar, owner of the 1785 Inn in Conway, New Hampshire, had his busiest July 4th weekend in 34 years, but says "foreign visitors were off a bit — Trump effect. We have to assure foreign visitors that they are welcome in America."

The Travel Trends Index predicts slower growth for the rest of 2017, but still nearly 2 percent higher than last year through November.

New York City's tourism agency, NYC & Company, predicts that 300,000 fewer international travelers will visit the city this year than last, according to spokesman Chris Heywood. Concerns about Trump administration's policies include "rhetoric surrounding the travel ban, laptop bans on certain airline carriers and the threat of having visitors reveal social media accounts," along with "the lack of a proactive welcome message on behalf of the nation," Heywood said. New York has put up its own signs saying "New York City - Welcoming the World" in England, Germany and Mexico.

Comprehensive international arrivals data from the U.S. Commerce Department takes seven months to compile, so it will be next year before definitive 2017 statistics are available. But the Commerce Department has seen a 5 percent increase January-March over the same period last year in collections from ESTA fees, which are electronic travel authorization fees paid by foreigners who don't need visas to enter the U.S. That suggests increased visitation from visa-waiver countries like the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and Australia.

___

Associated Press reporter Rachel D'oro contributed from Anchorage, Alaska.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Flash flood kills 5 children, 4 adults at Arizona swim hole
Adults, teens and children as young as 2 were enjoying a summer afternoon by cooling off in an Arizona creek when the gentle waters turned deadly
6:02AM ( 4 hours ago )
California lawmakers to decide fate of landmark climate law
California lawmakers are nearing a high-stakes decision that will decide the fate of a climate initiative that Gov. Jerry Brown holds up as a model to be replicated around the world to confront rising global temperatures
3:41AM ( 6 hours ago )
Health plan hinges on the young, but they're a tough sell
Young and healthy, Julian Senn-Raemont isn't convinced he needs to buy health insurance when he loses coverage under his dad's plan in a couple of years
3:24AM ( 7 hours ago )
U.S. News
McDonald's free ice cream promotion marred by app glitch
A McDonald's promotion for free ice cream cones to celebrate National Ice Cream Day went awry over a glitch with the fast food giant's mobile app
10:13AM ( 22 minutes ago )
British royals arrive in Poland at start of a EU visit
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shook hands with the crowd and gave autographs in Warsaw on Monday, at the start of a goodwill trip to two European Union nations that is intended to underscore Britain's friendly ties with them
10:05AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Coach AI: Iverson doesn't play in Philly Big3 homecoming
Allen Iverson walked onto a familiar court to a rousing ovation and then took an unfamiliar spot on the sideline
9:37AM ( 59 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Jordanian soldier sentenced to life for killing 3 US troops
Jordanian military court sentences soldier to life in shooting deaths of 3 US military trainers at air base
8:18AM ( 2 hours ago )
Trial set in case of donations for pope's hospital for kids
The Vatican is putting the former president and treasurer of its children's hospital on trial
8:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
S. Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North
South Korea has offered to talk with North Korea about easing animosities along their tense border and resuming reunions of families separated by their war in the 1950s
7:21AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP National News
Brexit talks begin in earnest with citizens' rights in focus
The European Union and Britain kick off their first full session of their divorce proceedings with both sides bent on seeking a quick breakthrough on unraveling ties that have bound them for decades
8:31AM ( 2 hours ago )
With 2018 looming, Democrats divided on their core message
Is it health care? Is it Russia? Democratic leaders and officials are publicly at odds over what the party's core message and emphasis should be as it targets the 2018 midterm elections
2:50AM ( 7 hours ago )
Iran detains president's brother, sentences Chinese-American
Iran imprisons Chinese-American for 10 years; President Rouhani's brother detained on financial misconduct allegations
2:23AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Business
Visitation up at Italian museums after reforms
The Culture Ministry says the number of visitors to Italian museums continues to rise two years after reforms that included opening top slots to foreigners for the first time
11:56AM ( 22 hours ago )
Lobbyist who met Trump team says he's not with Russian intel
Russian-American lobbyist who attended a meeting with Trump campaign officials last year denies connections to Russian intelligence
11:43AM ( 1 day ago )
Lobbyist at Trump meeting says he's not with Russian intel
Russian-American lobbyist who attended a meeting with Trump campaign officials last year denies connections to Russian intelligence
2:28AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
McDonald's free ice cream promotion marred by app glitch
A McDonald's promotion for free ice cream cones to celebrate National Ice Cream Day went awry over a glitch with the fast food giant's mobile app
10:13AM ( 22 minutes ago )
British royals arrive in Poland at start of a EU visit
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shook hands with the crowd and gave autographs in Warsaw on Monday, at the start of a goodwill trip to two European Union nations that is intended to underscore Britain's friendly ties with them
10:05AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Coach AI: Iverson doesn't play in Philly Big3 homecoming
Allen Iverson walked onto a familiar court to a rousing ovation and then took an unfamiliar spot on the sideline
9:37AM ( 59 minutes ago )
UN reports rise in Afghan war deaths, blames insurgents
A U.N. report says Afghanistan's protracted war killed a record number of civilians during the first six months of this year, blaming the majority of the deaths on bombings by insurgents
9:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
At least 8 killed in blast at mosque in northeastern Nigeria
At least 8 killed in blast at mosque in northeastern Nigeria; 4 suicide bombers also dead
9:13AM ( 1 hour ago )