Travel to US is lagging; security policies blamed

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International travel to the U.S., once a surging source of revenues for hotels, airlines and tourist destinations, is cooling off, raising concerns from leaders in the travel industry that strict security measures are scaring off visitors.

A report released last month by the International Air Transportation Association, the trade group for the world’s airlines, said international and domestic travel rebounded from a series of hurricanes in the U.S. this summer.

Although travel demand grew more than 7 percent around the world in October, the report said demand for international travel into the U.S. increased only 3.7 percent that month compared with a year earlier, among the lowest rates of any region in the world.

“There continues to be indications that inbound travel to the U.S. is being deterred by the additional security measures now involved with traveling to that country,” the trade group said.

In response to threats that terrorists may be working on explosives that fit into electronic devices, the Department of Homeland Security began in March to impose new restrictions on all electronic devices in the cabins of flights from eight Middle Eastern and African countries.

In the U.S., travelers must now put all electronic devices larger than a cellphone in a separate bin during security screening.

The trade group for the U.S. travel industry voiced concern last week about another report that showed travel to the country is not just slowing but declining.

A report by the U.S. Department of Commerce said that travel to the U.S. for the first six months of the year dropped 3.9 percent compared with the same period in 2016, with travel from Mexico showing the biggest drop — 9.4 percent.

“The latest government travel data is deeply concerning, not just to our industry but to anyone who cares about the economic well-being of the United States,” said Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association.

Some travel industry leaders have blamed President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against Mexicans and Muslims for the decline in demand.

The Commerce Department has reported that international travel to the U.S. began to surge in 2010 and then started to decline gradually in 2016.

From February 2017  through June, international travel from Mexico and overseas countries dropped sharply, ranging from 8 percent to 16 percent each month, compared with the same period in 2016. Travel from Canada to the U.S., meanwhile, has remained strong, partly making up for the loss of travel from Mexico and overseas.

By Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times

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