Does Trump's tough talk discourage visitors to US?

US president Donald Trump at a prison reform roundtable discussion at the White House in Washington on Jan 11, 2018.
US president Donald Trump at a prison reform roundtable discussion at the White House in Washington on Jan 11, 2018.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Persuading international travellers to visit the United States did not pose a problem in the past. But things have got a little more complicated.

According to the Commerce Department's National Travel and Tourism Office, the number of international visitors in the first half of 2017 fell 4 per cent from a year earlier.

Those in the industry point to factors like a global market that gives tourists more destinations, the strength of the dollar and tightening visa restrictions.

They also say the messages coming from the Trump administration - the latest example being President Donald Trump's vulgar comment about Haiti and African nations - play a role.

"Although the policy of the administration has not been targeted towards tourists, per se, tourists around the world are asking themselves whether they're welcome in the United States," said Mr Daniel Korschun, associate professor of marketing at Drexel University.

This week, the US Travel Association plans to announce that industry groups are forming the Visit U.S. Coalition in an attempt to combat the slump.

Mr Christopher Heywood, spokesman for New York City's tourism organisation, NYC & Co, said "negative rhetoric coming out of the current administration" was a driving force behind the group's marketing last year.