There are five times more people in the US with jobs resulting from international tourism than in the steel industry, and Trump's contested travel ban will hurt them
By Justin Francis

Trump protest - no ban

It often seems to me that tourism is not considered a proper or serious industry.

Maybe it's because having fun is felt to be frivolous compared to the honest graft of making steel, or because the industry is hugely fragmented making it hard to have visibility of it all.

Anyway, the FT's columnist Simon Kuper did some rough calculations. The US has 5.4m million jobs directly supported by tourism (WTTC), of which circa 14% result from international tourism. This is more than five times the number employed in the steel industry.

Kuper went on to say he no longer wished to visit the US, in part because of the travel ban. He's not the only one.

Responsible Travel in the U.K. has seen an 22% decline in enquiries to the US in January 2017, and Cheapflights (also in the UK) reported a 25% decline in flight searches to the US.

For many Trump's America is losing its shine and appeal as a tourist destination. Aside from ethical concerns, or those over the raising of tensions and divisions in US society, the rules appear unclear.

Last week the former Norwegian PM and a British cardiac consultant with only a British passport were stopped by US immigration , seemingly because of past visits to Muslim countries. Nobody wants that uncertainty when setting off on their holiday.

So, ironically, when Trump has spoken so much about job creation, in particular working class steel jobs, his travel ban could damage more jobs in tourism than he will ever create in steel.

What's more tourism employs people with a great variety of educational backgrounds and skills in hotels, restaurants, tour guiding, tourism attractions etc.

It could be argued that most of those jobs will exist in California, Florida, New York, and around the National Parks rather than the rust belt that elected Trump.

That maybe so, but there is a growing trend for tourism based around industrial heritage (such as mine tours). Some may say that's a tough sell, but arguably no more so than persuading people to buy US steel that's vastly more expensive than the overseas steel they've become accustomed to.

Industrial Heritage tourism in the UK alone is estimated to be worth 2.5bn.

Trumps travel ban is not only morally wrong, but it will damage the tourism industry and the US economy. His advisers should take a good look at the scale of their tourism economy and ask tourism business leaders how they feel about his travel ban.

Read more about Justin's thoughts on Trumps travel ban here

Read more articles on our blog

Photo credits: [Masha George]
Convert currencies