The American tourism industry stands to suffer an $18 billion hit during the next two years amid President Donald Trump's continuous travel-ban push.
A federal judge in Hawaii indefinitely extended on Wednesday an order blocking enforcement of Trump's revised ban on travel to the United States from six predominantly Muslim countries, Reuters reported.
Foreign tourism is a $250 billion-a-year business in the United States, and Trump's original and revised executive orders temporarily banning travel from majority Muslim countries — put on hold by federal courts — have dampened interest worldwide in visiting the U.S., USA Today quoted travel and tourism executives as saying.
"The U.S. has put an unwelcome mat at our front door," said Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group, which conducts travel research.
Airline bookings fell after the Jan. 27 and March 6 travel ban announcements, and hotels reported lighter occupancy in February, USA Today said.
About 4.3 million fewer international travelers will visit the U.S. this year because of the bans, costing $7.4 billion in revenue, according to Tourism Economics of Wayne, Pa. Another 6.3 million visitors and $10.8 billion that they would have spent will be lost in 2018, it estimated for USA Today
"'America first' rhetoric, which was pronounced during the campaign and Trump's inauguration speech, is finding consistent expression in policy," said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics. "On multiple fronts — diplomacy, trade, border control, visa policy — international markets are receiving a message that America is no longer a welcoming destination."
The expected decline in international tourism marks a reversal from recent years, when foreign visitors rose to 77 million in 2016, from 54 million in 2009, said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, which represents airlines, hotels and destination resorts. He told USA Today that each visitor spends an average of $4,300 over 18 days.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson turned an earlier temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii challenging Trump's travel directive as unconstitutional religious discrimination, Reuters reported.
Trump signed the new ban on March 6 in a bid to overcome legal problems with a January executive order that caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge stopped its enforcement in February. Trump has said the travel ban is needed for national security.
Trump has vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently split 4-4 between liberals and conservatives with the president's pick - appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch - still awaiting confirmation.
(Newsmax wires services contributed to this report).
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