Washington, D.C. – Today, Business Forward Foundation issued its latest report on the economic cost of President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, anti-immigrant policies, visa rollbacks, and harmful rhetoric about Mexicans, Muslims, and “shithole countries.” The ‘Trump Slump’ in California Tourism explains how global dissatisfaction with Trump is hurting international tourism to California.

America’s standing in the world has fallen dramatically as a result of Trump’s policies and rhetoric, and industry experts agree that trade tensions and the U.S. political climate are hurting airlines, hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions across the U.S.

“Eighty-percent of travel to the U.S. is for pleasure, not work, which means travelers who do not feel safe or welcome in the U.S. can switch easily,” explained Doyle. “Tourist visits vary with the global economy and currency valuations, but the ‘Trump Slump’ in tourism is significant – and totally avoidable.”

California is a leader in the U.S. international tourism market. In 2018, 18.1 million international tourists spent $28.3 billion on travel in California. Many of these visitors come from China and Mexico – two countries that have been the target of Trump’s harmful policies and rhetoric. In the U.S. market, California’s total shares of visitation from China and Mexico are 50.4% and 42.3%, respectively. But in the first half of 2019, tourism from Mexico declined by 2.5%; and the number of Chinese visitors is down from its peak in 2016.

The issue brief cites tourism and other export data from the U.S. Department of Commerce; industry analysis from U.S. Travel Association and Oxford Economics, a research firm that serves U.S. Travel Association and other industry leaders; and commentary from hospitality executives, analysts, and journalists covering the industry. Among the findings cited:

  • California leads in the U.S. international tourism market
  • In 2018, 18.1 million international visitors spent $28.3 billion in California
  • For every $1 million spent, 7.3 jobs are created in California
  • Global confidence in the U.S. president fell from 55% under Obama to 27% under Trump. In addition, the percent of the world that sees U.S. power as a major threat rose from 25% under Obama to 45% under Trump.
  • As our share of the global tourism market falls, America will lose 14 million visits, $59 billion in income, and 120,000 jobs this year alone.



The Business Forward Foundation is an independent research and education organization that takes a business-minded look at policy issues affecting America’s economic competitiveness. Our work combines insights and advice from business leaders across the country with rigorous policy analysis. Through white papers, issue briefs, conference calls, and other events, we educate policy makers and the public about climate change, immigration reform, infrastructure investment, the future of work, and other critical issues.