Only a month after Donald Trump took over the presidency, travel executives predicted his call for a ban on travel from several largely Muslim countries and his promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border would make international travelers feel unwelcome in the United States.
But new data show that inbound international travel grew 5.2% in May, marking the 13th straight month of positive year-over-year growth, according to the U.S. Travel Assn., the trade group that represents the nation’s travel industry.
Still, the analysis suggests that the growth of international travel is slowing, possibly because of a strong U.S. dollar and Trump’s proposed policy changes, according to the group.
“The stronger U.S. dollar will likely continue to weigh on international travel, and President Trump’s rhetoric and policies, including travel restrictions and anti-immigration stance, pose additional risk to international traveler sentiment,” the report said.
Domestic travel is projected to continue to grow over the next five months by 2.2% on a year-over-year basis spurred by strong business investments and rising household income.
Still, the travel association took a swipe at Trump, saying a “turbulent start to the Trump presidency” and his failure to “deliver on campaign pledges of fiscal stimulus, tax reform and reduced regulations has the potential to undermine confidence from both businesses and consumers alike.”
In February, two studies suggested that Trump’s policies and rhetoric already had hurt the travel industry. An analysis of about 300 million online air travel searches in February found that flight searches from international origins to the U.S. dropped 17% after Trump took office and signed an executive order Jan. 27, banning travel from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia. The Supreme Court ruled in June to allow much of the ban to take effect, but also applied significant restrictions. Iraq was removed from the later ban.
Around the same time, the Global Business Travel Assn., the trade group for the world’s travel managers, said business travel bookings in the U.S. dropped 3.4% in the week after Trump signed the order compared with the previous week.
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