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 Tourism explains how global dissatisfaction with Trump is hurting international tourism, the U.S.’s second largest export.

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.”

The global tourism industry grew at twice the U.S.’s rate last year (6% vs. 3%), which caused the U.S.’s share of global tourism to shrink further. Had the U.S. maintained the market share it enjoyed in 2015, U.S. businesses would have enjoyed 14 million more visits and $59 billion in additional income. This additional business would have supported an additional 120,000 U.S. jobs. Preliminary results from the first half of 2019 suggest that global tourism increased 3 to 4%, while the U.S. shrank 1.7%.

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:


  • International tourism is America’s second-largest export, accounting for 10% of U.S. exports.
  • Foreign tourists contributed $256 billion to our economy last year and directly supported 1.2 million jobs.
  • 80% of travel to the U.S. is for pleasure rather than work.
  • 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.