Budget tourism boost arrives with US halt on Muslim-majority visa flow

Obituary follows government report revealing millions of dollars in new tourism spending, 9.5% of new jobs Countries across the US are receiving millions of dollars in new tourism spending and 9.5% of new jobs…

Budget tourism boost arrives with US halt on Muslim-majority visa flow

Obituary follows government report revealing millions of dollars in new tourism spending, 9.5% of new jobs

Countries across the US are receiving millions of dollars in new tourism spending and 9.5% of new jobs since President Donald Trump started temporarily suspending travellers from six Muslim-majority countries, the government said on Friday.

The dramatic turnaround is a contrast to the dire predictions that Trump’s travel ban, which has been blocked by the courts, would harm the US economy and cost jobs, and comes despite the outcry that followed the president’s controversial address to Congress.

The report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) showed that the halt in new immigrants from Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya and Somalia has meant an estimated $130m was spent on travel between January and February, and 1,585 jobs were created in the leisure and hospitality sector.

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Under the order signed in late January, citizens from those countries were denied entry for 90 days. In all, the numbers of visitors to the US declined from 922,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 665,000 in the first three months of 2018.

A second iteration of the ban introduced on 21 March contained exceptions for travellers who have a “bona fide relationship” with US residents. However, critics say the limited exemptions are too narrow and focus only on nationalities from Muslim-majority countries.

As well as the boost to GDP, the economy gained $7.8m in taxes from the visitors, who are disproportionately low-income. Less than one-fifth of the 12,000 people who came for the first time in the quarter travelled to the US for business, the BEA found.

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The growth of employment in the leisure and hospitality sector in the first quarter of the year outpaced the rest of the country’s by 140,000 jobs, resulting in economic expansion of 0.3% and a revised GDP estimate of 2.1% from the fourth quarter of 2017.

The surprise growth stands in stark contrast to the doom and gloom made public in the final months of the Obama administration, when sharp declines in tourism growth prompted warnings about job losses and warnings that the US economy could suffer if the policy was implemented.

The BEA’s figures also do not account for the same number of jobs that would be created if people from the six Muslim-majority countries were permanently allowed to enter the US, and for those that would be lost by those who did not return to the US once their trips were over.

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