FOXTROTS*

 

Trump Slump Bumped – extraordinary changes in US visitor counts that turn a fall into growth.

The US has produced a new set of figures on visitor arrivals in the US. It reverses the Trump Slump into a Bump. But the new counts do not correct what may have been a fault; they deliberately miscategorise figures, which produces a Trump Bump.

 

We are shocked, but we have seen no other reports that have analysed the changes.

 

Here is the story:

 

Earlier this year, many reports on visitor arrivals in the US were reporting a ‘Trump Slump’ – a fall in visitors prompted by the negative actions and words of the newish US president, Donald Trump. When he was not banning or trying to ban certain types or citizens from visiting the US, his words were unfriendly.

 

Not only did his words ascertain that the US was on its way to becoming great again, but, almost concomitantly, non-Americans (=foreigners) were not so good, at best.

 

In those circumstances, there should have been little surprise that the number of visitors would fall. Even if the banned nationals were tiny suppliers of visitors to the US (we guess some country-markets in the hundreds, and maybe 10,000 over a year), many others would, sensibly, have reconsidered a visit to the US.

 

Would a France national, moslem, born in France of parents from Morocco, continue to assume a visit to the US would be trouble free?

 

But a fall in visitors, of course, even if a likely outcome of specific actions, was not welcomed by the US administration. Its discourse was, and is, that everything is better for everyone in the US, and possibly better than since the beginning of time.

 

This is not to say that we accuse the US government of helping the US administration to falsify facts. But its actions nevertheless raise suspicions.

 

Last April, the US government said it was checking visitor-arrival counts because some visitors may have been miscategorised.

 

The country’s DMO (NTTO, National Travel and Tourism Office) says some arrivals were incorrectly reported as showing US as the country of residence. The passport country for many (NTTO says ‘a large number’, but provides no further definition to enable others to define it thus) of the affected records was Brazil, China, India.

 

This month, NTTO announced that the problem has now been fixed.

 

But, we declare, it has not been corrected.

 

The NTTO says any visitor-arrival that listed the US as the country of residence has now been changed to show the passport country as the country of residence. This is actually changing what may have been a mistake (obviously most arrivals with India passports were/are not residents of the US, even if some were recorded as US residents) to a clear mistake (assuming all those non-US-citizen visitor-arrivals were/are not resident in the US).

 

This exercise has reversed the Trump Slump into a Trump Bump.

 

In general terms, based on our notes above about the unwelcome sentiment in Trump’s US for ‘foreigners’, the visitor-arrival count now seems wrong. That said, we accept that few figures ‘seem’ right all the time; there are always surprises.

 

The NTTO says the change (it says ‘corrective’ but as we have noted, these are not corrections, this is just re-categorisation) means the mistake (if that is what it was) in 2017 affected 3.7mn visitors in 2017 – almost a full Trump Year – yet only 540,000 visitors in non-Trump 2016.

 

The other broad figures (more, with an accompanying table, in a WYSK report, what-you-should-know, from Travel Business Analyst):

-The new figures show there were 38.9mn +2.0% overseas visitors in 2017. The old figures were 35.2mn -6.2%.

-For total visitors (ie including Canada, Mexico), new 76.9mn +0.7%, old 73.3mn -3.1%.

-There were no changes for visitors from Canada, Mexico in 2017, but changes in 2016 and 2015. Although the changes in those earlier years were small, why were those 2017 figures ‘corrected’ before the ‘mistake’ in the categorisation was discovered? Even though the Canada and Mexico visitor-arrival counts are so big (almost 40mn in 2017), no visitor was mis-categorised?

 

 

The Fox. Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.

*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

Advertisements