Slump in international visitor numbers to the US

Overseas visitors to the US have sunk to a four-year low, with tourism chiefs concerned for the long-term outlook of the industry.

The number of overseas visitors to the US fell 5.4 per cent drop in March compared to the same time last year.

“The outlook for international inbound travel remains lacklustre, suggesting that a further loss of global market share is in the cards for the US in 2019,” said David Huether, senior vice president for research at US Travel Association.

Tourism has taken a knock since Donald Trump was elected President, but although some blamed his tough rhetoric targeting people from Muslim countries, others have signalled the strength of the US dollar and global political turmoil as the main drivers of the downturn.

The ongoing economic challenges in Europe caused by Brexit and a looming trade war between the US and China, which has resulted in a double-digit dip in Chinese tourism to the US, are significant factors in creating headwinds for the US tourism industry.

The US share of the international long-haul market has been falling from a peak of 19.2 per cent in 2015 to 16.8 per cent last year.

However, that’s not the tourism industry’s only challenge, with a strong local economy meaning many are struggling to fill staff vacancies in hotels and restaurants, which combined with a tougher regime on working visas, is resulting in an industry beset by labour shortages.