Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall
March 20, 2017
LONDON—Turmoil over President Donald Trump’s efforts to curb immigration risks reducing tourism to the U.S. beyond the impact the strong dollar has already had on the country’s attractiveness for holidaymakers, one of the world’s biggest travel organizations said Monday.
Spending by foreign visitors to the U.S. could shrink this year as a result of the dollar’s rally against most major currencies, with an estimated decline of around $1.2 billion, or 0.6% of the total, likely to prove “conservative” in the context of Mr. Trump’ travel ban, said David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council.
“The message that has gone out around the world is that the U.S. is effectively closing for business,” Mr. Scowsill said in an interview.
The Trump Administration on Jan. 27 issued a temporary travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries in a move the White House said was aimed at reducing the risk of terrorist attacks on the U.S. Courts struck down the ban. A revised version barring entry for people from six countries was issued this month, but also blocked by judges in Hawaii and Maryland. The White House has said it intends to appeal those rulings.
The outlook from the WTTC echoes similar views from others in the travel industry.
Tim Clark, president of Dubai-based Emirates Airline which the world’s largest carrier by international traffic, said earlier this month said that when Mr. Trump first issued a travel ban in January the pace of bookings to the U.S. slowed immediately. The market hasn’t fully recovered since.
Travel consultant ForwardKeys said bookings to the U.S. fell 6.5% in the eight days after the initial travel ban was issued, with declines registered beyond just the Middle East.
The WTTC said travel and tourism contributed $1.5 trillion to the country’s GDP, with 9.4% of jobs linked to the sector.
Total U.S. travel and tourism spending is still expected to advance this year by around 2.3%, though trailing the 2.8% growth seen last year. The strong dollar is making it more attractive for Americans to head overseas. Locations in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Mediterranean are expected to be the biggest beneficiaries, WTTC said.
Globally, WTTC said, the economic benefit from tourism and travel rose 3.3% last year despite terrorist attacks that hit demand in some key markets.
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