New Hampshire tourism officials are closely watching political developments in the Trump administration and overseas as they prepare for the summer and fall travel seasons when they see most of their international visitors.
“I have a concern that we’re going to see a dip from our key markets, which would be the United Kingdom and Germany, but that has as much to do with their politics as it does with ours, with Brexit and the whole currency situation over there,” said Marti Mayne, who markets attractions for the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce in northern New Hampshire.
She and others in the tourism business attended the New Hampshire Travel Council‘s annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism on Tuesday in Concord.
“It’s a little early to know what’s going to happen, but we’re concerned,” Mayne said.
Keynote speaker Mike Fullerton, a spokesman for Brand USA, the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to promoting international travel to the U.S., said politics impacts travel. He said international travelers surveyed recently said that politics will have an impact on whether they’re going to visit the U.S.
Fullerton said, for example, there’s been “a lot of tough talk” about Mexico that has an impact there. He said new efforts would be made to reach potential tourists in Mexico. He said ad campaigns are tailored to each country, but that U.S. attractions, including New Hampshire ones, such as its beaches, still exist “no matter who’s in office.”
Republican President Donald Trump suspended new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries and halted the U.S. refugee program, citing safety concerns. Federal judges have blocked those actions. He also vowed during the presidential campaign to erect a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
New England has seen an uptick in international visitors in recent years. International growth is outpacing domestic growth in the region, said Victoria Cimino, director of new Hampshire’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development. She said New England received an estimated 2.1 million international visitors in 2015 who spent about $2.1 billion.
She said the United Kingdom and Canada continue to be strong markets in New Hampshire, as are Germany, France, Italy, Ireland and Japan. She said Australia and New Zealand are emerging markets. The allure of the New England region is the draw.
“We always keep an eye on the United States and the perception of the United States as a welcoming travel destination,” Cimino said. “We have zero intention of pulling back on our international marketing effort. We will maintain the work that we do to continue to promote New Hampshire as a hospitable, welcoming place to visit.”