Officials, Experts Examine if Trump Causes Decline in Foreign Tourism to City

The city warns that hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists will avoid the city this year because of hostility overseas to President Trump. But are foreign visitors really staying away? NY1's Michael Scotto has the story.

Irem Cati lives in Germany, and is about to wrap up a week trip to the city — a trip she thought twice about taking.

"We bought our tickets before the election, and after the election we said maybe it would have been better if we spent our money to another country and do not spend it to Donald Trump's country," Cati said.

That sentiment is a concern to city tourism officials, who say antagonism towards President Trump may convince some foreign visitors to steer clear of the U.S.

Last year, some 12.6 million of them came, and officials were expecting that number to go up again this year. But now they project a decline of 300,000 foreign tourists.

"We know that while travelers view New York City differently, they still have to choose to cross the United States border to get here," said Fred Dixon, the president and CEO of NYC & Company. "We're still a part of America."

Officials are stepping up advertising to ensure foreigners keep coming.

By some measurements, foreign tourism is down, but it's not clear that Trump is to blame.

The group Big Apple Greeter counted 28 percent fewer customers in January and February, compared with the same months last year, but it says Trump is not the biggest reason.

"Brexit," the strong dollar, and uncertainty in Europe might be more to blame.

"I think if we look closely at the value of the Euro and of the British Pound, we would see that it's not as strong as it was this time last year," said Alicia Pierro, the executive director of Big Apple Greeter.

The Hotel Association of New York City says it hasn't seen "widespread cancellations" due to Trump.

Thursday on the Brooklyn Bridge, most travelers said politics weren't going to influence their plans.

"I didn't give it a second thought," one woman said. "I'm here to see New York, and not to see Trump."

"I don't agree with everything that's Trump sort of, you know, setting about to do, but it doesn't change my opinions of the country as a whole," another tourist said. "He's just one man."

Many of tourists here now had planned their trips before Trump was elected.

Officials say an analysis of online ticket and hotel searches since the election indicates that travelers are not as enthusiastic about coming to the United States as they once were.

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