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Citing Rhetoric and Policies, US Tourism Industry Blames Trump as Foreigners Flock Elsewhere

"It's not a reach to say the rhetoric and policies of this administration are affecting sentiment around the world, creating antipathy toward the U.S. and affecting travel behavior."

The U.S. saw a major decline in international tourism in 2017—the first year of President Donald Trump's term. (Photo: Mark Collins/Flickr/cc)

The tourism industry is blaming President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant policies and xenophobic rhetoric for a decline in foreign visitors to the U.S. since Trump took office a year ago.

The National Travel and Tourism Office saw a nearly four percent drop in foreign travelers entering the U.S. in 2017 and more than a three percent drop in spending by tourists.

The slump translates to $4.6 billion in lost tourist spending and 40,000 tourism jobs lost.

The data was released at the end of a year in which Trump ordered bans on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries; pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of racially profiling Latinos and abusing inmates; touted his plans to build a 30-foot wall separating the U.S. from Mexico; and moved to repeal deportation protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S as children and have lived and worked there for years.

Most recently the president was accused by Republican and Democratic lawmakers of referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and the nations of Africa as "shithole" countries and advocated for more immigration from European countries such as Norway.

"It's not a reach to say the rhetoric and policies of this administration are affecting sentiment around the world, creating antipathy toward the U.S. and affecting travel behavior," Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, told the New York Times.

The decline has bumped the U.S. out of its place as the number-two most visited country in the world, with Spain taking its place.

The number-one spot went to France, as it did in 2016.

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