It’s like nobody wants to come visit the Great American Garbage Fire.
By one measure, the U.S. granted 13 percent fewer visitor visas over the past 12 months when compared with fiscal year 2016, according to State Department data analyzed by POLITICO — a downward trend that appears to have accelerated in the past six months.
It’s unclear whether the drop is due to fewer people applying or more rejections of applications. The cause is likely some combination of both.
That last point is debatable. We’re talking about visitor visas, and declining tourism numbers—to the tune of $4.6 billion in lost revenues and counting—indicate that it is foreign tourists making the decision on their own not to risk or bother with a U.S. trip, rather than having it decided for them. The visa process has been made more cumbersome, and it’s a bit harder to convince visitors that the United States is a safe place for foreign visitors when the international news is full of reports of the White House garbage fire demonizing foreigners—attacks that conservative “news” outlets giddily and titteringly parrot.
This is fine with Trump’s Republican supporters, of course. The whole point of Trumpism is that “furriners” should stay out, with their fancy money to spend and their fancy bilingualism. The point of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Asian, anti-European rhetoric is to make those populations uncomfortable. If that damages the economy, like so much of Trump’s other rhetoric, that is considered a price worth paying.
That said, it is odd that Trump, at least in theory a hotel and resort baron, or at least a renter-of-his-name to those efforts, would be so insistent on damaging the tourism industry. But at this point it is not clear the Trump family does business with anyone not connected to the Russian government or Russian mob, and that’s probably a (cough) considerably more insular marketplace, right?