International tourism is booming, but not to the US

International tourism is booming, but not to the US


International tourism is growing at its fastest clip in seven years, but the U.S. is on pace for its sharpest drop in foreign travelers since the wake of the recession.

It’s a worrying trend for the travel and retail industries. International travelers tend to stay longer and spend more than their domestic counterparts.

In the first seven months of 2017, the U.S. took in 41 million international visitors, a 4 percent decline from the year-earlier period, according to the Commerce Department. That follows a more than 2 percent drop a year earlier.

It’s a worrying trend for the travel and retail industries. International travelers tend to stay longer and spend more than their domestic counterparts.

Tourism and retail industry leaders this week launched the Visit U.S. Coalition, which wants backing from the Trump administration to help stem the decline. The coalition was founded by U.S. Travel, a lobbying group whose members include Marriott International and Macy’s.

“Fewer visitors means fewer hotel stays, fewer meals eaten in our restaurants, fewer goods purchased in our retail stores, and fewer visits to our national attractions. It also means fewer American jobs and a loss to our economy,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, a coalition member. “We are committed to working together with the Administration to balance a welcome message with strong security to ensure we don’t fall behind to other countries.”

Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel, called some of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric “not helpful” but stopped short of blaming him or his policies for the drop directly. Dow pointed to a strong dollar and competition from other nations.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

U.S. Travel, whose aim is to boost tourism in the United States, has had its share of headaches under the administration and has weighed in during various travel bans, the short-lived laptop ban and more stringent visa checks for international visitors.

“Mr. President, please tell the world that while we’re closed to terror, we’re open for business,” Dow said last March. “Imbalanced communication is especially susceptible to being ‘lost in translation’ — so let’s work together to inform our friends and neighbors, who could benefit from reassurance, not just who is no longer welcome here, but who remains invited to invest and vacation here.”

If the U.S. had maintained its market share of global long-haul travel over the past two years, it would have meant 100,000 new jobs and more than $32 billion in spending, U.S. Travel estimated this week.



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