By: Barbara Demick
During spring break, Canadian families used to pile the kids into a tour bus and head to New York to see the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center and other attractions. It was the start of the busy season for Comfort Tour, a Toronto-based company that usually brought between 200 and 300 tourists to New York in March.
This year, 11 people have signed up for the tours.
“Even white, Anglo-Saxon people, who are most of our customers, they are afraid of crossing the border,” said Al Qanun, manager and part owner of the travel agency. “They don’t want to end up in some prison.”
The fallout from President Donald Trump’s executive orders limiting travel from some Middle Eastern and African countries is having far-reaching implications for US tourism.
It is not just visitors from the countries targeted by the bans that are souring on U.S. travel; the seven countries included in Trump’s original order in January account for 0.1 per cent of incoming travellers. Rather, an atmosphere of fear at the nation’s airports – and well-publicized incidents of visitors being detained and interrogated – are scaring off people without the slightest connection to the Muslim world.
Think twice about visiting America if you don’t want the ‘Mem Fox’ treatment,” read a recent headline in the letters column of the Australian magazine Traveller, referring to the children’s book author who swore she would never return to the United States after being questioned at Los Angeles International Airport on her way to a literary conference.
The Toronto Star newspaper in late January published a commentary calling on Canadians to forgo unnecessary trips to the US until Trump is out of office.