Even without entry test requirements, travelers are likely to pause before rushing back to a country where hate crimes and mass shootings are becoming far too commonplace. How will the U.S. travel industry tackle one of the greatest potential threats to its recovery of international travel?
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“The new National Travel and Tourism Strategy comes at an important time when international travel spending in the U.S. was still 78% below 2019 levels in 2021,” said U.S. Travel’s Dow. “The strategy sets out specific actions that the government can take to rebuild our travel economy and make it more globally competitive than it was before the pandemic.”
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Bontoux said that among the French, as much as everybody wonders why on earth Congress steadfastly refuses to vote any gun control law, no one would cancel a US side vacation because of any gun-related danger. He attributes this to a lack of experiencing mass shootings, which don’t exist in France, as well as two years of no travel.
“French tourists who vacation abroad also like to ‘play it political,'” added Bontoux. “For an American vacation, they will stress they only go to blue cities and states, not the Trumpland they despise.”
For travelers of color, as well as LGBTQ communities, the cycle of news flashing on their screens faster than they can say Disney and the slim odds of being at the wrong place at the wrong time might not shake the feeling that America isn’t the place to be right now. For them, safety in travel is about well-being and inclusion — at home and abroad. The risk is in the hundreds of billions of dollars that BIPOC travelers and their allies contribute to U.S. tourism might ultimately shift elsewhere.
“Collectively, when you look at all the reasons why America is an attractive destination, that has not changed,” said Destination DC’s Ferguson. “There’s still a level of interest in our country that fortunately for us has not been skewed 100 percent. We still have to focus on those things that make us a great nation and those things that don’t make us a great nation, as it pertains to the bipartisan politics, which is unfortunate.”
UPDATED: This story was updated to include statements received from the U.S. Travel Association.
Photo credit: The rise in mass shootings and hate crimes in the U.S. may well impact its international visitation rebound. Chip Vincent / Unsplash