Trump’s Tourism Slump: U.S. Slips in Global Ranking of International Visitors

January 12, 2018, 5:37 PM UTC

Call it the Trump Slump. The number of international tourists heading to the U.S. continues to fall—to the point that America is no longer the world’s second most popular country to visit.

Spain now holds the number two spot, with the U.S. dropping to third. (France remains atop the list.) Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy announced the shift earlier this week in Italy.

According to Rajoy, 82 million people visited Spain in 2017. The U.S. number was 78 million.

It’s a trend experts saw coming. In the first half of 2017, the Commerce Department released figures showing that the number of international visitors had fallen by nearly 700,000—a loss of nearly $2.7 billion in spending.

Central to the issue is Donald Trump’s ongoing comments about immigration, making international visitors feel less welcome.

“The [immigration] crackdown and the image of the U.S. as an inhospitable place to anybody who’s not a U.S. citizen is a byproduct of what is going on,” David Leopold, partner and chairman of immigration law at Ulmer & Berne in Ohio, told Newsweek.

Tourism is a critical industry in the U.S. According to SelectUSA, the travel and tourism industry generated over $1.5 trillion in economic output in 2016. And one out of every 18 Americans is employed directly or indirectly in a travel or tourism-related job.