US president Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric against Mexicans appears to be keeping undocumented immigrants away—and dollar-toting tourists with visas as well.
The number of Mexican visitors to the US started dropping slightly ahead of the US presidential election in November last year. By March, the latest data available from the US government, tourism from Mexico had plummeted by 16% compared with the same month last year.
The timing of the drop is pretty telling. Unlike travelers from other countries, whose numbers had been declining before the US presidential election, visitor numbers from Mexico had been growing pretty steadily until shortly before it. (In Canada, the strengthening of the Canadian dollar likely had more of an impact on travel than Trump; visits to the US started rising a few months before the presidential election.)
A few months into the Trump presidency, Mexicans were still staying away—and in bigger numbers. That’s a loss for the US companies that cater to Mexican tourists. Last year, Mexicans accounted for roughly a quarter of all international visits to the US, according to data from the US’s National Travel and Tourism Office. This year, their absence could cost businesses more than $1 billion, according to estimates by research firm Tourism Economics.