* NYC drops estimates for tourist numbers this year
* Las Vegas relying on trade conventions
* Global survey predicts business travel reductions
By Maria Sheahan
BERLIN, March 10 The U.S. travel sector is
bracing for a year in which a strong dollar and uncertainty over
President Donald Trump's travel ban could deter visitors,
industry representatives said at the world's biggest tourism
trade fair in Berlin.
Trump on Monday signed a revised executive order banning
citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from travelling to the
Those countries account for a tiny percentage of U.S.
visitors, but there is growing concern that the order could hurt
the image of the United States and scare other tourists away.
"I'm glad that the travel ban has been revised, but it still
has some problems. It sends a message that we are not
welcoming," David Kong, chief executive of U.S.-based hotel
group Best Western, said on the sidelines of the ITB trade fair.
"As leader of our country, the President needs to be aware
that there is collateral damage," he said.
The U.S. dollar has gained more than 5 percent against the
euro over the past six months, making it more expensive for
travellers to visit the United States.
New York City was expecting foreign tourist numbers to
remain unchanged at 12.7 million but has cut its forecast for
2017 by 300,000.
"It's too soon to tell exactly what's going to happen,"
Britt Hijkoop, a senior manager at NYC & Company, told Reuters
but said New York hoped to be proactive with its advertising.
The city has spent $3 million on a marketing campaign with the
slogan "Welcoming the World".
Las Vegas, another major tourist destination, hopes business
with trade conventions and a wide price range for accommodations
will keep growth robust, said Heidi Hayes, Director of
Communications for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors
Las Vegas had a record 42.9 million visitors last year, with
about 7 million from outside the United States, and forecasts an
increase to 43.2 million this year.
But a survey by the Global Business Travel Association
(GBTA) indicated business travel, an important source of income
for hotels and airlines, could suffer due to the ban.
Some 37 percent of U.S. business travel professionals said
they expect a reduction in their company's travel because of
Trump's revised executive order, while 17 percent of European
travel professionals said their company has already cancelled
business travel to the United States.
Dubai-based Emirates airline said at the fair its
booking rate for flights to and from the United States took a 35
percent hit overnight after the first travel ban and had not yet
Other airlines said they had not yet seen a notable effect
on concrete bookings but that the impact of the travel ban would
become apparent over the longer term.
(Reporting Maria Sheahan; Editing by Julia Glover)