Tourism is an important economic force in Southwest Colorado, and its success depends on multiple factors: weather, wildfires, gas prices, airfares, news coverage, terror threats, violence against foreigners and what destinations the travel press is promoting this year.
International politics also matter and, this year, the United States has a president who is not interested in making nice with foreigners nor welcoming them to the country. Tourism professionals have reason to believe that is costing their industry.
The “Trump Slump,” as it is being called, results from the president’s broad policy changes and proposed travel bans and, more generally, from his tweets and off-the-cuff remarks.
His proposed budget also cuts funds for foreign visitor promotions.
Tourism traditionally brings significant income to the country, and this year it will bring less. The journal Tourism Economics estimates that approximately 4.3 million fewer international travelers will visit the United States this year, with a corresponding revenue drop of $7.4 billion.
That drop contrasts with steady increases during the Obama administration.
Compared to the same month last year, America’s share of international tourism declined 16 percent in March, according to U.S. News & World Report. USAToday reported that “precipitous declines” in airline bookings followed the Jan. 27 and March 6 travel ban announcements, hotels reported fewer reservations and more travelers said they either had canceled trips or were less likely to visit the United States in 2017.
The cancellations aren’t only from Muslim-majority countries, and as President Donald Trump continues his blunt and sometimes inaccurate rhetoric, more potential visitors may decide to travel elsewhere.
That’s a problem for resort towns. It’s a problem for Durango and Cortez because Mesa Verde is a popular destination for tourists from Europe and Asia.
For example, when Trump calls Germans “very bad,” they’re likely to forget very quickly that he was talking about a trade imbalance, but their reluctance to visit his country may linger.
Tourism promotion is hardly the president’s primary job, but if he is concerned about the economic health of the country, Trump would do well to consider the consequences of his disdain for foreigners, who can vote with their wallets.