Donald Trump’s first and second attempted travel bans were struck down, but not before the repercussions of racist and xenophobic executive orders actually affected something Trump cares about: money.
It was speculated for some time that random detainment at airports and invasion of privacy might be a deterrent to some of the 75 million tourists who visit the U.S. from abroad each year, even if they weren’t flying in from any of the predominantly Muslim countries on Trump’s list. U.S. News reported on March 9 that numbers were already rolling in that looked pretty bad for the 8 million jobs in tourism that Americans depend on annually:
Initial data suggests that a “Trump slump” in tourism may well be materializing: Oxford Economics predicts that foreign travel to the U.S. could drop by 8 percent, or 6.3 million visitors, this coming year. Travel sites have reported massive declines in searches from the UK for travel to Tampa, Orlando, Miami, San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The Global Business Travel Association estimates that Trump’s policies have already cost the U.S. travel industry nearly $200 million.
At the time, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters disputed the “Trump Slump” in a statement to the Associated Press, saying, “It takes several months for each month’s international arrival statistics to be processed and released to the public. To claim the executive order has had an impact on travel would be premature.”
Well, the numbers are in. The statistics may strike you as obvious, but no one in the White House seems firmly tethered to the reality of their decisions, so we may as well try facts one more time. Data from social networking and location sharing app Foursquare, gleaned from about 13 million users, showed a huge dip in travel to the U.S., according to the numbers released Wednesday. They noted that from October 2016 to March, traffic related to tourism fell 11%, while rising across the world during the same timeframe by 6%.
The Foursquare data follows analysis form late April from software company Adobe, who also tracked a decline. Marketwatch reported that travelers searching the U.S. as a destination sight online have fallen by 6% year over year in the first quarter of 2017. Ernest Wooden Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, told them that the board’s own research indicated a potential loss of 800,000 international visitors:
“Los Angeles has experienced six consecutive years of record-breaking tourism growth, but recent data shows that a perceived ‘anti-welcome’ sentiment appears to be taking a toll in key international markets,” he said. “Since travelers are thinking twice and we have a clear business problem on our hands, we’re spreading the message that Los Angeles is open for business and that visitors from around the world are welcome to Los Angeles, one of the most diverse U.S. cites.”
Foursquare also reported that, for whatever reason, California has been hit the hardest by Trump’s failed executive orders, with huge drops in visitors to Los Angeles and San Diego. If you’re wondering where the majority of visitor traffic fell off from, they write that in January 2017 “shopping and vacation activity from Middle Eastern tourists was down over -25%, and hovers in the negative high teens today.”