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Another casualty of Trump — tourism?



It was like watching a disaster that you just couldn't look away from — closer to bad reality television than a U.S. presidential debate.

But watch it millions did.

Research firm Nielsen estimated that 81.4 million Americans watched the Sept. 26 debate from their homes, but that number is likely to be millions more when you consider the global audience not just watching TV, but also on the Internet.

This has made it the most-watched U.S. presidential debate ever.

Who won? It's not even a relevant question these days in the race to be president in America.

It doesn't seem to matter how many factual errors Republican Donald Trump makes in his speeches, or appearances, he is still neck-and-neck with Democrat Hillary Clinton in the polls.

It seems unbelievable that our neighbours to the south would elect a man who admits to cheating his workers, paying no taxes and lays climate change at the feet of the Chinese saying it's a hoax.

One can only hope that undecided voters watched Trump's bombastic, argumentative empty-of-substance debate and decided not to vote for him.

That's not to say that Clinton is all roses — plenty of depth there to take aim at, but Trump has got to be the worst candidate ever fielded in a U.S. election.

Some might argue that the election in America is purely interesting to watch on an intellectual level from this side of the border (and it looks like Trump doesn't intend on building a wall at the northern end of the States). But the election will impact the economy, the value of the U.S. dollar and perhaps even tourism patterns.

As a destination resort, Whistler has more than a passing interest in the election.

Under U.S. President George W. Bush (2001-09) some travellers refused to head to the U.S.

An article in the

Tampa Bay Times quotes Iris Köpke, the editor-in-chief of the German travel trade magazine Luxusinsider: "The fact that Donald Trump is being quite successful surprises many people and also sparks interest in the election, but mostly in a negative way.

"I vividly remember people saying that they won't travel to the U.S. as long as George W. Bush is president because they didn't like his attitude. That totally disappeared with Obama, who is rather popular in Germany compared to Bush. I think a president called Trump might bring out those old resentments once again."

Equally, if a President Trump did actually build a wall with Mexico it's pretty unlikely that many travellers from that country would spend their money in the U.S. And Americans won't be going there either in all likelihood, concerned that they would not be welcome.

This state of affairs would be exponentially truer for some travellers from Europe or the Middle East over concerns about racial profiling.

Tourism is a massive engine in today's global economy, but that doesn't mean it can't be affected — indeed we have seen it impacted repeatedly by such things as a strong U.S. dollar, SARS, terrorism and more.

And, yes elections, can impact it as well.

Roger Block, the president of the Travel Leaders Franchise Group, told Travel Weekly recently he has noticed that election years typically have an impact on people's willingness to book travel, "especially when candidates call the economy into question.

"Often during an election year, one side of the political spectrum is saying that the economy is worse than it had been before the sitting president took office or that it will be better with a newly elected government.

"This gives the voting public the impression that they should curb discretionary spending, which includes travel, whether or not the economy is actually failing or in great shape."

From Canada's point of view, this could all be good news as perhaps travellers who were considering going to the U.S. might come to Canada instead.

But Canada, and Whistler, could be negatively impacted as well if Americans decide to stay put. An unfortunate turn of events given that according to Destination Canada, U.S. visits to Canada were up 11.4 per cent in July over the same time last year. Indeed the American visitors numbers haven't been so robust since 2002. In the first seven months of this year, 2,561,179 American travellers arrived by air into Canada. That's an 18-per-cent rise.

So if you catch the next two U.S. presidential debates in October it might be tempting to slap your knee and guffaw at Trump, but the tourism sector might not be laughing if he ends up the 45th president of America.


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