U.S. SENATE News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Friday, ahead of Memorial Day weekend, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich called on the Trump administration to take concrete steps to address the reported decline in tourism to the United States as a result of President Trump’s hostile rhetoric and harmful travel policies, which have created the perception that the United States is not a welcoming place for foreign visitors.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Udall and Heinrich said that this “Trump effect” threatens to hurt the economy of the United States and of New Mexico, where tourists spend more than $6 billion annually and help sustain more than 90,000 jobs. Udall and Heinrich also noted that the “Trump effect” risks damaging the United States’ leadership in science and innovation, as foreign scientists are reportedly considering skipping crucial science and technical conferences in the United States. As the senators wrote, President Trump has proposed eliminating Brand USA, which promotes the United States as a travel destination around the world.
Udall and Heinrich requested that Ross reply, in writing, by June 30, 2017, with detailed explanations of the Department of Commerce’s plans to ensure that the U.S. remains a world leader in international travel and tourism.
“Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer travel season,” the senators wrote. “The travel and tourism industry contributes nearly $1.6 trillion to the American economy and supports 7.6 million jobs, including in rural areas with high rates of unemployment. International visitors to the United States spent over $246 billion in 2015, supporting a $98 billion trade surplus. The Department of Commerce recently projected annual growth in travel to the U.S. through 2021. Our home state benefits from tourism and welcomes visitors from around the world, including for popular events such as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Visitors to New Mexico spend more than $6 billion annually, which helps sustain more than 90,000 jobs.”
“So we are alarmed by reports that travel companies and destinations are noticing a decline in the number of leisure and business travelers looking to visit America,” the senators continued. “A recent news report on an analysis of mobile payments indicates that America’s market share of international leisure tourism declined an average of 11 percent between October 2016 and March 2017. Other reports indicate that the travel industry describes this as the ‘Trump effect.’ Business is down apparently due to unfortunate misperceptions abroad that our country is not a welcoming place for foreign visitors due to negative rhetoric and new travel policies such as the Executive Order signed on January 27, 2017… which many believe constitutes a Muslim ban. The president’s adversarial remarks about Mexicans and policies toward Mexico are also likely contributing to the Trump effect on travel, particularly for border states like New Mexico.”