The United States slice of the international tourism pie is declining, according to a new report from Foursquare that looks at data from millions of phones worldwide.
The US share of international tourism dropped 16% in March 2017 compared with the previous year. And it declined an average of 11% year over year in months spanning October 2016 to March 2017, according to the report.
The drop coincides with the final month of the US election, the Trump transition, and the early months of the Trump administration, which notably imposed a travel ban on people from several majority-Muslim countries in January 2017 that was eventually halted in court but is currently under appeal. Declines in tourism market share from people originating in the Middle East were more pronounced than the rest of the world, down 25% this January, along with a smaller decrease from South America, Foursquare found.
The data accounts for the percentage of international tourism coming to the US and not the absolute number of tourists, but Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck told BuzzFeed News that its unlikely tourist visits to the US increased while share declined. I dont think youd see a 16% decline in international market share and absolute numbers being up. I dont think thats compatible, he said. The volume of tourism doesnt change that fast.
Foursquares data comes from approximately 13 million users who opted to share their locations with the company, much like the data collection methods it used to accurately predict iPhone sales in 2015 and a massive decline in Chipotle sales in 2016. Foursquare tracks where the people holding these devices go at all times, allowing it to identify types of behavior including leisure and business travel based on where they go and how often they visit these places. The data is anonymized. We understand where phones sleep, generally over time where home is, Glueck said. Were able to see not just that someone traveled from Switzerland to Miami, but things like, did they walk into a mall, a museum, a restaurant; did they stay at a hotel?