by Jonathan Decker
As we closed the books on 2018, current economic projections indicate that President Trump delivered on his promise to achieve 3 percent economic growth for the first time since 2005. Last year, the U.S. economy emerged strongly from a decade-plus slump, but to maintain this momentum, the Trump administration should look at areas where they have the potential to build on going forward. One area in particular is U.S. travel.
Despite a good year for global economic growth, reports indicate that many U.S. cities lost millions of dollars in tourism resulting from a decrease in foreigner visitors. Why? A new white paper by the Visit U.S. Coalition and Trump economic advisor Stephen Moore dives into our tourism slump:
[America] arguably has the greatest and most diverse travel attractions in the world – from coast to coast no other nation has all the natural beauty – such as our crown jewels of National Parks – or the manmade attractions from Disney World to Las Vegas to Hollywood.
Many Americans underappreciate the importance of foreign tourism to the United States as a driver for growth. But the ﬁnancial impact on the states and communities is well summarized in a study by economists at Michigan State University quite aptly summarized a hypothetical scenario:
Let’s say a region attracts an additional 100 tourists, each spending $100 per day. That’s $10,000 in new spending per day in the area. If sustained over a 100 day season, the region would accumulate a million dollars in new sales. The million dollars in spending would be distributed to lodging, restaurant, amusement and retail trade sectors”
The growth rate in foreign visitor spending in the United States since 2015 has also fallen relative to the growth rate in other large nations, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association. More people travel to France and Spain in a year than the United States and Spain has overtaken the U.S. to rank second.
Here are the three likeliest explanations. First, the dollar has strengthened which makes it more expensive to travel to and shop in America. Second, the U.S. Government has made it more diﬃcult to come into the United States as a result of toughened customs and immigration enforcement…And third, hospitality matters…the rhetoric coming out of Washington regarding foreigners is not always welcoming. We know that this can persuade foreigners to avoid coming to the U.S. and spending their money here.” [Emphasis added]
The paper goes on to offer thoughtful solutions on how we can strengthen our tourism industry, and Make Visiting America Great Again. These policies include growing our visa waiver and global entry system, expediting entry to the U.S. for the majority of tourists, and rolling out a welcome mat to countries worldwide to make clear that we want their visitors and their money!
To keep the U.S. economic engine churning, U.S. tourism shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential catalyst for more future growth. The Visit U.S. Coalition report makes a compelling case that extending a welcoming hand could bring billions more dollars into our cities and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. So let’s make sure that when residents of other countries plan their vacations, they think of ‘America First!’