Travel boom is leaving the US behind

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Golden Gate Bridge, California
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A study has revealed that the US is failing to keep up with the growing global tourism industry, despite a seven-per-cent increase in travel and tourism worldwide.

Bayut.com, a Dubai-based real-estate database, has analysed and reported on statistical findings from the US government's National Travel and Tourism Office, highlighting the trend of international visitations to the US in recent years and noting an overall decline.

The study showed that Mexico remains the number two source of foreign visitors to the US, but that these numbers have dropped significantly in the Trump era due to what some experts believe to be a ‘Trump slump’. This trend ‘could cost the US more than a billion dollars per year according to some estimates’, the study says.

The study went on to say that ‘no matter which part of the world they hail from, international tourists tend to spend far more than Americans do’: “Among visitors to New York City, for example, international tourists spend four times as much as travellers from other parts of the US.”

Furthermore, though Asia-Pacific nations provided the greatest number of US visitors in 2017, Europeans significantly outspent the Asians, and Africa and the Middle East further outspent the Europeans. The study suggested: "Africa and the Middle East experience tremendous income inequality, suggesting only a limited number of wealthy people can afford to visit America at all."

Top visitors to the US included: Canada, which, along with Mexico, made up the vast majority of tourism arrivals; the UK, which accounted for almost 6.2 million arrivals; and Japan and China, following closely behind with five million and 4.4 million visitors respectively. Indeed, although numbers from China are ‘substantial’, the study also identifies that this is likely to increase in years to come: “While just seven per cent of Chinese citizens have a passport currently, they're projected to account for a quarter of all global travel by 2030."

Between 2015 and 2017, New York’s (not counting Newark) average arrivals declined by 1.9 per cent, with 6.8 million arrivals a year; Miami, at 5.2 million a year, was down 4.6 per cent. However, although its total number of foreign arrivals was relatively small, visits to San Jose increased by an impressive 121 per cent, and arrivals to Los Angeles and San Francisco increased by 2.3 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively.

Furthermore, ‘the third most popular state’, California, attracted more than 16 million visitors between 2015 and 2016. "International visitors are a big boon to the Golden State's economy. While foreigners represent just six per cent of all tourists to the Golden State, they account for 22 per cent of total tourism spending," the study observed.

Of the 2017 figures, the study notes: “Blame the strong dollar or tougher visa vetting procedures, but the numbers are undeniable: as places like Canada and the UK welcome tourists in droves, the US is receiving fewer foreign visitors.”