The “Trump Slump” was already bad news for the travel industry, projecting a $7 Billion loss to the tourism industry. But those figures are much higher now: $7.4 billion in 2017 and $10.8 Billion in 2018. An estimated 4.3 million fewer people want to visit the U.S., according to Tourism Economics.
Most of this started with the travel ban on 7 Muslim-majority countries earlier in the year. But it wasn’t tourists from these countries that hurt the industry; it’s how the rest of the world reacted. Immediately, 2,000 European travelers canceled their plans just with Hostelling International UDA. “Getting those cancellations all at once, that was startling,” said Russ Hedge, chief executive of HIU. “We’ve never seen something like that.
It’s not just Europe. Flights to the United States have dropped in nearly every country since January. According to the travel-booking app Hopper, countries such as China and Iraq had 40% drops, while countries like Ireland and New Zealand fell 35%. The only country with a surplus—in fact, a healthy 60% surge—is Russia.
The United States had been doing well, but that was not always the case. “In the aftermath of 9/11, at first people didn’t feel safe coming here, and then they didn’t feel welcome,” said Jonathan Grella, an executive vice president at the U.S. Travel Association. “Our industry still refers to that as ‘the lost decade.’ There is a very real risk that that could happen again.”
Trump’s “You’re Not Welcome” sign is being read loud and clear across the world.