The number of foreigners planning to visit the United States
has dropped slightly over the last year in response to the political climate,
but not all tourists are concerned about the anti-immigrant sentiment that has
the travel industry on edge, according to Brand USA.
Brand USA, a public-private partnership created by Congress
to promote America as a tourist destination, says the number of people planning
to visit the U.S. has dropped from 27% in March 2016 to 25% this month.
The number of Asians planning to visit, however, is on the
rise. And a majority of travelers from China, Japan, India, Korea and Brazil
said the current political climate is likely to positively influence their
likelihood of visiting the United States, according to an analysis of surveys
and data conducted by the group.
Not surprisingly, the number of Mexicans planning to visit
the United States this year has dropped about 15 percentage points. President
Donald Trump has referred to some Mexican immigrants as criminals and "bad
hombres" and is moving forward on a campaign promise to build a wall along
the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
Canadians were also less likely to visit, although Brand USA
blames some of that on the weakness of their currency against the U.S. dollar.
Carroll Rheem, Brand USA's vice president of research and
analytics, says the group's conclusions are based on an analysis of three
separate studies, including traveler surveys. She says Brand USA first began
trying to gauge the impact of politics on inbound traveler sentiment last
summer when it noticed visitors were noting politics as a factor influencing
their travel decisions.
Rheem says that while anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric and
Trump's attempted bans on travel from predominantly Muslim countries have no
doubt had a negative impact on tourism to the U.S., there are some positives,
such as the indications of a rise in Asian tourism.
The long-term impact of the current political climate,
however, remains unclear, she says, noting consumer sentiment changes with the