'He doesn't want me in his country': Aussies shun Trump's America
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'He doesn't want me in his country': Aussies shun Trump's America

Australians are increasingly shunning holidays to the United States as the Trump effect reverses the popularity of the country as a vacation destination.

There has been a significant decline in the growth rate of Australians heading to the US for their holidays, according to analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data by Finder. It shows the growth rate of travellers fell to just 0.6 per cent in the first seven months of 2017, down from an average of 9.6 per cent year on year since 2009.

Ilsa Harun chose to go to Tokyo instead of the US because of her opposition to Donald Trump.

Ilsa Harun chose to go to Tokyo instead of the US because of her opposition to Donald Trump.

Photo: Supplied

Instead, Australians are heading to China, New Zealand, UK and Thailand at a far higher rate than those visiting the US last year.

Ilsa Harun, a Melbourne University student, said she would not not be travelling to the US while Donald Trump is President because of the recent immigration ban on some Muslim countries. She planned to go but said the ban signals to her that Mr Trump "doesn't want people like me in his country". Instead, she chose to visit Japan.

"I feel like the Muslim ban is a pretty big reason. Some of my sister's friends had trouble even getting scholarships to go to the US for university because of where they're from.

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"I can really see the personal effect on people. That's enough reason not to go. I'm sure some people think it's [a pretty ridiculous reason to not visit a country,] but if they saw it my way or from some other people's way, they might understand," she said.

Over the last few years, the popularity of spending holidays in the US has dried up in a trend that has only accelerated since President Trump began to make controversial campaign promises to restrict immigration.

Since 2015, the US and Turkey have been the only places among the top dozen global travel destinations to experience a decline in inbound visitors, meanwhile Australia, Canada, China and the UK are experiencing an increase.

Sue Cassidy from Rye Park, NSW, said there are parts of the US she would love to visit but has "totally ruled that out" while President Trump is in power. She was planning on going on a holiday but says the US is "one place we won't be going" and is considering travelling to Ireland as an alternative. "The US, while Trump's there, no way," she added.

Ms Cassidy said her decision was a personal choice but also partially an act of protesting.

"It's a protest because I don't like the person he is. I don't like his politics... I don't like the way he treats people, but it's also personal choice. I don't want to be involved in that," she said.

Last week, the US Commerce Department reported a 3.3 per cent drop in traveller spending for last year, through to November, the equivalent of $US4.6 billion in losses and 40,000 jobs.

The US share of international long-haul travel fell to 11.9 per cent last year, from 13.6 per cent in 2015, according to the US Travel Association, including a 14 per cent drop from Australia. (The average "long-haul" visitor to the States spends 18 nights and $US4400, according to US Travel.)

To combat this issue, 10 US business associations have created a travel industry group, Visit US Coalition, aimed at reversing the growing unpopularity of the US as a vacation destination.

"America isn't winning when we're falling behind our global competitors," Roger Dow, US Travel's president said.

A Qantas spokesperson said the airline was not experiencing a decline in interest to the US.

"We're continuing to see strong bookings across our US networks of services, which include flights to Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Honolulu. Last year, we launched our first Dreamliner aircraft between Melbourne and Los Angeles and announced a new route from Melbourne to San Francisco.

with Bloomberg

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