The correlation between the presidency of Donald Trump and a decline in U.S. market share is more than just speculation. It is real—but is it solely responsible for attitudes of residents and travelers in key international markets? Remember: Correlation is not necessarily causation.
Absent up-to-date numbers from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) (The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has had difficulty in gathering and delivering international arrivals data, and NTTO is about nine months behind real-time figures), there was an attempt last week to explain matters from Foursquare and its CEO, Jeff Glueck. Foursquare is a search-and-discover app especially popular among young millennial travelers, 40 percent of whom are 18-29, that helps them find venues such as restaurants, theatres and attractions nearby and helps them check in. Not really a tool of seniors or traditional groups—only 5 percent of Foursquare users are in the 54-65 age demographic—it has some 50 million users in 190 countries.
In a the blog post, Glueck said findings from Foursquare’s data base reveal that America’s “market share” in international tourism started to decline in October 2016, when the U.S. tourism share fell by 6 percent year-over-year, and continued to decrease through March 2017, when it dropped all the way to minus16 percent. The charts below look at “market share” rather than absolute figures, e.g. the U.S. as a destination versus the rest of world.
Methodology: Visits to the U.S. from July 2016 through March 207, in market share, are shown as a percentage change from the prior year’s visits. Visit data is normalized to account for changes to the total sample size.
Methodology: Comparison of business and leisure travel to the U.S. and to the rest of the world from July 2016 through March 17, in market share, are shown as a percentage change from the prior year’s visits. Visit data is normalized to account for changes to total sample size.
To be clear, Foursquare does not claim this analysis can “tease apart” the impact of a new tone or policies versus other factors: The dollar has been up slightly (about 3 percent year-on-year versus the Euro during the past two quarters), making travel to the U.S. more expensive at times. The value of the Euro is down, making European travel marginally more attractive. There may be other factors as well.
We should point out that the downturn in tourism came months before the President Trump came into office, and before changes to visa procedures, restrictions on travel from certain Muslim countries, the ban on certain electronics during flights from select countries and more. It remains to be seen whether future studies will reveal a correlation between such policies and levels of inbound travel to the U.S.
NOTE: The Inbound Report will not be published next week; we’ll be in Washington, D.C., covering IPW. Our next publishing date is June 15th.