Skift Take

It's becoming clearer that 2017 has gone down as one of the worst and most challenging years for U.S. tourism in recent memory. In 2018, many destinations will likely step up their marketing of discounted options to get more foreign feet and spending power through their doors.

Fewer international travelers visited the United States during the first seven months of 2017 and with that decline, foreign visitors also spent less across the country, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data released this week.

The commerce department data also show that for January through November, international travelers spent $187.6 billion, 3.3 percent less at U.S. destinations than the same period in 2016. The decrease has amounted to a $4.6 billion loss in spending for U.S. businesses last year. All of the data isn’t in yet but 2017 is shaping up to be the second year in a row that international visitor spending declined.

The U.S. Travel Association, in a statement, said that international travel spending had been growing each year since the global financial crisis in 2009, but that a slowdown in spending started in 2015.

“After almost a decade and a half of relatively sustained post-9/11 recovery, since 2015 there’s been evidence that the country has gotten complacent with the policies needed to support this vital economic engine and job creator,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel, in a statement.

Data also show that travelers spent more each month year-over-year from January through April and that spending began to drop off in May.

U.S. Travel plans to launch a Visit U.S. Coalition next week that will represent multiple industries and will try to break through to the Trump Administration on how to solve the tourism spending slump.

“Flourishing international travel is vital to President Trump’s economic goal of sustained three percent GDP growth, and the Visit U.S. coalition is being founded for the express purpose of helping him achieve it,” said Dow.

Many U.S. destinations are likely wondering how they’ve been impacted by this slump. Los Angeles Tourism, for example, told Skift that it won’t have its tourism spending data finalized until April and it doesn’t track monthly spending data throughout the year.

December spending data is still outstanding, but it’s apparent that many destinations took a hit last year from economic and political woes impacting travel to the U.S.


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Tags: spending, tourism

Photo credit: International visitor spending took another hit in 2017 in the U.S. Pictured are tourists outside Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California. Steve Boland / Flickr

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