Despite the fact that Spain had a horrifying terrorist attack and massive demonstrations surrounding Catalonia’s bid for independence, more tourists wanted to visit Spain than travel to the United States in 2017.
While France has maintained its hold on the top spot, with 82.6 million croissant-craving visitors pouring into the country, last year was the first time that the U.S. has been bumped from the No. 2 position, according to a forthcoming report from the UN’s World Tourism Organization. While the final numbers won’t be released until the spring, according the UNWTO as reported by The Guardian, in 2016, Spain welcomed 75.3 million visitors, just behind the U.S. with 75.6 million.
The reason that the U.S. was bumped is due to the decline in international tourism that came in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency. Threats of “extreme vetting” and Trump’s calls for stricter border controls caused tourism to fall 6% during the first six months of Trump’s presidency, compared to the year before.
According to Deutsche Welle, the slump is real and it’s rare: “Over the past two decades, the U.S. tourist industry has only experienced two downturns: after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and again during the economic recession that began in 2008.” Not only are fewer visitors making their way to the U.S., but those that do make it through border patrol, spend less once they are here, specifically 3% less. Per Deutsche Welle, that translates to a loss of $4.6 billion to the US economy and roughly 40,000 lost jobs.