FRANKFURT, March 20 Travel and tourism's
contribution to the U.S. economy will grow at a slower pace this
year than in 2016 due to a strong U.S. dollar and a perception
that the country is less welcoming to foreigners, the World
Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said.
U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month signed a
revised executive order banning citizens from six
Muslim-majority nations from travelling to the United States,
which some have warned could deter visitors.
Those countries account for a tiny percentage of visitors to
the United States, but there is growing concern that the order
could hurt the country's image and scare other tourists away.
"The travel ban is not having a material impact yet. But we
are seeing the unintended consequences of this now because the
message has gone around the world that the U.S. is not open for
business," the WTTC's President David Scowsill told Reuters.
The travel and tourism sector's contribution to the U.S.
gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 2.3 percent
this year, a slowdown from an expansion of 2.8 percent seen in
2016, the WTTC said on Monday.
Growth will be driven by trips from the United States to
elsewhere as the strong U.S. dollar makes it cheaper for
Americans to travel to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.
"Overall the U.S. is still robust," Scowsill said. "The most
important thing is that we get to the end of this (travel ban)
situation," he said.
The U.S. travel and tourism sector is the biggest in the
world, accounting for $1.5 trillion, or around 20 percent of the
world's travel and tourism GDP contributions.
Globally, the sector's contribution is expected to grow by
3.8 percent this year, generating $7.9 trillion and accelerating
from a 3.3 percent increase in 2016.
Some destinations suffered last year as attacks prompted
travellers to head elsewhere, with tourist spending dropping in
Belgium, France and Turkey. But the WTTC said that consumers
switched to other destinations such as Bulgaria, Cyprus or Spain
rather than putting off travel altogether.
"In Europe, people have still been getting on airplanes and
travelling. They just haven't been going to those places,
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Toby Chopra)