Brand USA Research Shows Politics' Effect on Inbound International Travel
In a public board meeting Wednesday, officials at Brand USA, the organization that markets the United States to the world as a premier travel destination, noted while there were some slips in international visitors' intent to travel to the States when President Donald Trump's executive orders on travel were first announced, some of those downturns have been reversed. Year-over-year, the number of people planning to visit the U.S. has only dropped slightly, from 27 percent in March 2016 to 25 percent.
The organization surveyed international travelers about the impact the current political climate has had on their intent to travel to the United States, taking the pulse of the marketplace in December 2016, and February and March of this year.
"If you look at the changes, you see an increase of the negative side and a decrease of the positive, with the exception of China," said Carroll Rheem, vice president of research and analytics for the destination marketing organization. She added that aside from the political climate, a range of other metrics, such as the strength of the dollar and fatigue with the U.S. as a destination, could be at play. Mexico, which has shown a drop-off of 12 percent in those saying they are likely to visit, has been the country most affected by the political climate.
Findings varied for each month. In February, a rise in hesitancy was observed regarding travel to the U.S. from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Japan, South America, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Travlers from those countries said they were less likely to visit the United States, citing the political climate as a reason. In December, about 20 percent of travelers surveyed from Germany said the political climate was a reason they would not visit the States; that number rose to about 34 percent in February and fell off slightly to about 32 percent in March.
Brand USA officials said the organization's aim, as far as the travel edicts are concerned, is to help travelers make sense of the policies. According to a note in an accompanying slide show at the board meeting, "When a change in travel policy occurs, Brand USA's role is to communicate that information in tandem with our ongoing efforts to promote the range of diverse destinations and nearly limitless travel experiences available in the USA. Our role is not to set, defend or pomote travel policies."
"We were created to drive more international travel into the United States and to be able to communicate the visa policy, and clarify misconceptions about that policy," said Anne Madison, chief strategy and communications officer. "Our committment to marketing the United States is as strong as ever."