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Thursday, April 6, 2017

US tourist trade suffering from Trumpism

Talking to other cruisers on Cunard's beautiful Queen Victoria last month, I was struck by the number of horror stories from people who had flown into the United States to board the ship in Fort Lauderdale.  Before they could get to Florida and ultimately the wharf, they had to land in LAX, and go through the formalities.  Which turned out to be a nightmare.

I heard stories of harassment by immigration and customs officials.
Stories of husbands and wives being taken into different rooms for separate interrogations.
Stories of four-hour queues for customs and immigration attention.
Stories of an Air NZ plane being kept waiting on the (expensive) tarmac for nearly two hours after boarding time, because transit passengers could not be found.

And these were New Zealanders, Australians, and British.  Men and women in late middle-age or even much older, affluent people who can afford a pricey cruise, and must be the most unlikely terrorists possible.  One Chinese-Australian couple (fourth or fifth generation Australian) visibly shook with rage as they told me about it.

Every single one swore they would never set foot in the States again.

Talking with a well-traveled friend yesterday about her next trip, she revealed that she and her husband are deliberately planning not to fly through the United States, which set me to thinking. What if this is a massive trend?

And I find that it is.  According to the Boston Globe, tourist numbers are diving. The story likens the situation to the disaster that crippled the US tourist industry after the attack on 9/11.

The story, by Christopher Muther, is headlined, YOU COULD CALL US TOURISM A VICTIM OF TRUMP'S TRAVEL BAN.

He writes:

President Trump’s travel ban targeting nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries may not have held up in court, but it appears quite successful at keeping plenty of other people out of the United States.

Trump’s order brought with it a swift decline in the number of worldwide tourists and travelers looking to visit the United States, say people in the tourism industry. Some say it could be as damaging to the US tourism sector as the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Online booking websites reported that flight searches from international points of origin to the United States were down anywhere from 6 percent to 17 percent since Trump signed the executive order on Jan. 27. But experts say what’s more alarming is the icy message it sends to the world.

“The US is in danger of taking the same path it took after Sept. 11, which led to a decade of economic stagnation in the travel and tourism sector,” said David Scowsill, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council. “Strict visa policies and inward-looking sentiment led to a $600 billion loss in tourism revenues in the decade post 9/11.”

And what is that going to do for American jobs?

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