MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s tourism economy is expected to be hit by the “Trump Slump.”
That’s what some are calling international visitors afraid to come to the U.S. because of the president’s immigration policies.
Tourism experts are predicting 4 million fewer foreign visitors to the U.S. this year with a loss of more than $7 billion dollars. In 2015, the Mall of America alone reported more than 2 million separate international visits.
Those visitors spend far more than those from the U.S. — Explore Minnesota says foreign tourists spend an average of $2,000 per trip, while U.S. tourists average $300 dollars per trip.
Its not hard to see the effort the Mall of America puts into attracting foreign travelers. The mall’s website features guides in seven languages, and its Facebook page features clips of foreign visitors.
Excluding Canada, China is second for having the most tourist visits to Minnesota. But the air travel website Hopper reports airfare searches to the U.S. from China have dropped 46 percent — a drop considered an indicator of future bookings. John Edman the Director of Explore Minnesota said,
“We have seen a lot of chatter, a lot of questions about things in the current political situation,” Explore Minnesota director John Edman said.
Edman says it’s too early to have numbers for international travel to Minnesota since the election, but he says it’s critical that those in the tourism industry communicate clearly about key issues like visas.
Stories of even U.S. citizens like boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s son, Muhammed Ali Jr., being detained twice at U.S. airports are having an impact. Immigration attorney Esteban Rivera said,
“People are now reluctant to travel to the U.S., and prefer to travel to somewhere else because of the treatment they are receiving at customs,” immigration attorney Esteban Rivera said.