Hilton CEO forecasts modest rise in inbound travel this year

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Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta expects U.S. revenue from inbound international travelers to rise "modestly" this year after a 4% decrease in 2017.

During the company's fourth-quarter earnings call, Nassetta said that a weaker dollar would provide a small boost.

He also said he hoped there would be a softening of political rhetoric that might be negatively affecting inbound travel, likely referring to President Trump's inflammatory comments on immigration.

The U.S. was one of only two destinations in the top 12 global markets to record a decline in long-haul inbound travel since 2015, the other being Turkey. The U.S. Commerce Department reported last month that from January to November 2017, international travelers in the U.S. spent 3.3% less than the year before, a loss of $4.6 billion.

Christopher Nassetta
Christopher Nassetta

As a result, the U.S. Travel Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last month led the formation of the Visit U.S. Coalition. The group's goal is to partner with the Trump administration in an attempt to reverse the decline.

"I hope some of the work we're doing as an industry with the administration will soften the edges of what we're saying," Nassetta said. "I'd like to think we're making some progress there."

Despite the drop in inbound travel, revenue per available room (RevPAR) at Hilton's U.S. properties rose 3.2% in the fourth quarter and 1.5% for all of 2017 as group and corporate business improved.

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