Midst an ongoing buzz heard wherever more than a handful of inbound international tour and travel professionals have gathered since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, the marketing committee of Brand USA’s board of directors was to have gathered this week to apply the finishing touches its marketing plan for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins Oct. 1st.
The 100 million-visitors-by-2021 was established during the mid-point of the Presidency of Barack Obama, when the number of annual visitors to the USA had reached nearly 68 million. And as arrivals pushed past 77 million in 2015, the goal looked achievable—on paper. For, 2015 also brought with it a dollar that strengthened considerably vs. the British pound sterling, the euro, the Mexican peso and the Canadian dollar—suddenly, travel to the USA had become 20 percent more expensive for consumers in some markets. To make matters worse, Brazil lapsed into its worst economic recession in a century.
It is still too early to gauge definitively the impact of President Trump and his immigration policies, which are deeply unpopular abroad. Early statistic signals seem to suggest, however, that some travelers in major markets are forgoing holidays in the USA because of Trump.
But even before a few recent readings on Trump, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) was finally able to address some of the collection issues it had to deal with in the way the Department of Homeland Security’s was providing passenger arrival data in a timely fashion and recently came out with First Quarter numbers for 2017 that do not augur well for the rest of the year.
The indications are that Brand USA will formally push back its goal of attracting 100 million visitors a year to the United States by two years. This action and others were to be discussed at the Sept. 13 marketing committee meeting. The results of that meeting are expected to be approved at next week’s (Sept. 20) meeting of the full board of directors.