People, Travel

Strong Dollar Keeping Tourists Away From US

Strong Dollar Keeping Tourists Away From USStrong Dollar Keeping Tourists Away From US

New York restaurant owner Jeremy Merrin has seen business wane in recent weeks at his Havana Central eatery in Times Square. The reason: not enough international tourists.

“We’re fighting a double-whammy,” said Merrin, who owns three restaurants and is on the board of the New York State Restaurant Association. “Not only is the dollar going up and making things more expensive, Europe as a whole is not doing well,” according to Reuters.

International tourists to the United States spend more than $200 billion annually on travel, hotels, dining and shopping, but growth in 2015 is expected to decelerate as would-be visitors balk at the stronger dollar and grapple with weaker economies at home.

“That could impact the length of their stay and the composition of their spending in the United States,” said David Huether, senior vice president, research, at the U.S. Travel Association, which sees the influence of the stronger dollar becoming more severe in 2015’s second half.

Travel experts hope some of the drop in spending in the United States will be made up for by increased tourism from China, where visitors can now get a visa that lasts 10 years. Lower gas prices and a stronger U.S. economy also may encourage more domestic travel, they said.