NEW YORK — Last winter, the U.S. tourism industry fretted that Trump administration policies might lead to a "Trump slump" in travel.
But those fears may have been premature. International arrivals and travel-related spending are up in 2017 compared with the same period in 2016.
There might even be a "Trump bump," says Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, a
A few months ago, Dow and others warned that President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and ban on travel from a handful of mostly Muslim countries could send an anti-tourism message.
But "impending doom hasn't manifested itself," Dow said in an interview. "Right now we cannot identify a loss. It's contrary to everything we've heard, but travel is in slightly better shape than it was a year ago. Everyone wants me to tell the story of the sky is falling, but for the travel industry, the sky is not falling."
Latest numbers from the U.S. Travel Association's Travel Trends Index showed 6.6
Individual sectors have good news, too. Hotel occupancy for the first five months of 2017 was "higher than it has ever been before," said Jan Freitag, senior
Florida's Orlando International Airport, a gateway for theme park visitors, reported growth for domestic and international passengers year to date, though Visit Orlando CEO George Aguel said it was "still premature to determine a specific impact" from Trump administration policies.
International trips are often planned months in advance, so decisions made this year about travel may not be evident yet.
"For us, we already planned before the election," said Alban Michel, waiting with a group of Swiss tourists to see One World Trade's observatory in New York on Monday.
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Asked if there's a "Trump slump" in travel to the 12 Southern states marketed by Travel South USA, CEO Liz Bittner said, "The truth of the matter is no. I think it was a lot of media hype." Bittner agreed that the challenge for U.S. tourism "isn't so much Trump. It's the strong U.S. dollar against some of the other currencies," which makes the U.S. an expensive destination for foreigners.
Daniele Biron, an Italian visiting the
Isabelle Bornemann, owner of Alaska Travel Connections, said her international group bookings are down 30
Charlie Mallar, owner of the 1785 Inn in Conway, New Hampshire, had his busiest July 4th weekend in 34 years, but says "foreign visitors were off a bit — Trump effect. We have to assure foreign visitors that they are welcome in America."
The Travel Trends Index predicts slower growth for the rest of 2017, but still nearly 2
New York City's tourism agency, NYC & Company, predicts that 300,000 fewer international
Comprehensive international arrivals data from the U.S. Commerce Department takes seven months to compile, so it will be next year before definitive 2017 statistics are available. But the Commerce Department has seen a 5
Associated Press reporter Rachel D'oro contributed from Anchorage, Alaska.
Beth J. Harpaz, The Associated Press