Fewer Americans visited the U.S. in 2017 than in the previous year


Fewer Americans visited the United States in 2017 than in the previous year, according to an annual report released by the U.S. Travel Association on Thursday. Some of those staying home cited uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration’s travel ban, which included eight Muslim-majority countries.

The report’s American Index of Travel Intentions, which measures how much holidaymakers and business travelers plan to visit the U.S., fell 1.2 percent compared to 2016. Researchers attributed that to consumers’ worries over security and terrorism concerns following the decision to ban travelers from eight countries, primarily from Muslim-majority nations. It is the first year in five that travel intentions have dropped compared to the year before.

The group also reported that 59 percent of Americans, including 68 percent of business travelers, plan to travel to the United States in the next year. That is down from the previous year’s 62 percent, but is still higher than many other countries, such as Britain (47 percent), Canada (39 percent), Australia (37 percent), and Germany (35 percent).

The decline in travel intentions is particularly upsetting because it occurred ahead of a flurry of major travel seasons, such as summer, which means high numbers are expected once the ban expires in June. “To have a decline when we’re starting that off with such a travel increase in the summer is huge,” said John McAvoy, the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “At the same time, the good news is business is stronger than ever.”

The United States has been facing a sharp rise in cancellations in recent months. In 2017, 35,000 U.S. businesses received about $2.5 billion of unplanned cancellations and postponed travel, according to a study commissioned by Travel Leaders Group. In addition, there were 14,000 businesses that lost $50 million or more when travelers cancelled their reservations.

Some experts have speculated that the heavy demand for trips out of the United States is now available in other parts of the world. But in his report, Mr. McAvoy noted that travelers still need to get visas to visit the United States. “There are more and more Americans who want to go overseas and we hope they do,” Mr. McAvoy said. “We just have to have some rationality and prudence and make sure we’re using our resources effectively and smartly.”

In addition to prospects for the summer travel season, consumers might be concerned about the prospects for the economy and future activity, as well as overall confidence, though the U.S. Travel Association noted “nearly 90 percent of travelers” plan to give their personal finances the same priority they have been giving for the past several years.

In its 2018 outlook, the U.S. Travel Association said it expects total spending to grow between 0.2 and 1.1 percent compared to last year, in line with past projections. Visitors are projected to spend between $802 billion and $861 billion this year.

Other trends in the United States’ destination destinations revealed by the report included a strong showing for China, which is expected to spend over $127 billion during the coming year, up from a spending rate of $116 billion in 2017. Canada and Mexico, the second and third most visited countries in the U.S., are expected to spend $87 billion and $84 billion, respectively.

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