More potential disaster has been spotted on the horizon for poor Florida—and the rest of the country, for that matter. The Sunshine State, and other states in the South and West, depend on meetings attendees and other tourism from abroad in winter months, and now U.S. Travel Association has warned of “major storm clouds for the inbound international travel market.”
Revising earlier, more upbeat numbers, the association this week said international visits actually shrank year to year in four of the first seven months of 2017. February (down 6.8 percent) and March (down 8.2 percent) were the weakest months.
The U.S. Department of Commerce affirmed this disappointing conclusion. Through March 2017, the agency said, total overseas travel to the U.S. declined by 7.8 percent compared to 2016.
The Global Business Travel Association in May projected a $1.3 billion loss in overall travel-related spending this year in the United States from Europe and the Middle East alone.
Blame for fewer foreign tourists was placed on a strong U.S. dollar and perception that the Trump administration is fostering a hostile environment for overseas visitors.
In a statement, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow urged the administration to protect policies that promote international travel to the United States and to keep the Brand USA marketing program alive. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget marked Brand USA for elimination.
“Upbeat consumer attitudes and solid labor market conditions continue to support the domestic travel market,” said Adam Sacks, president of Oxford Economics’ Tourism Economics group. “However, stagnant wages and the recalibration of expectations regarding the Trump administration’s campaign pledges pose risks to consumer and business sentiment. Additionally, the president’s continued rhetoric and policies weigh heavily on the international inbound market outlook.”