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« Checking In On Egypt's Democratic Reforms. | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 44 -- The American Dream. »

American Tourism Losing Billions Because of Image?

One of the more common strains of media bias manifests itself in a little theory called "the narrative." The narrative holds theory that the media have a story they want to tell to the public, and the facts will not get in the way of them telling it.

One such media narrative we commonly see today is that America's image has taken a hit around the world because of our reckless unilateralism. This tarnished image (caused, of course, by President Bush) is hurting America in all sorts of ways.

Financial Times has an extraordinarily bizarre headline:

US tourism ‘losing billions because of image’

The facts just don't match up, even within the body of the story itself.

Take this, for example:

The number of international visitors last year rose 12 per cent, compared to 2003, to 46.1m, according to the US Commerce Department. They spent $93.7bn, or 17 per cent more than their counterparts the previous year.

So where is the evidence that U.S. tourism is hurting?

Try this:

US market share of foreign visitors is still down 38 per cent since 1992, according to the TIA. The number of global travellers has grown by 2 per cent to 770m since 2000, but US market share has not kept pace. “Our piece of the pie has shrunk by 5m visitors,” said Mr Dow.

So, America's market share of global tourism is down since the year President Clinton was first elected?

Look at the numbers, available at the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA)'s website.


So, let's review the facts:

1. The number of travelers to the U.S. was up 12% in 2004 compared to 2003.

2. The money spent by those travelers was up by even more in 2004 compared to 2003.

3. The travel industry forecasts international travel to the United States to grow next year by more than twice the global rate since 2000.

4. There was a clear decline of tourism immediately following 9/11 which happened to coincide with a brief global economic downturn. Tourism has since bounced back.

The real lesson should be that reasonable security measures regarding people entering the United States are the ounce of prevention that would save a pound of grief. Terrorism is a tourism killer. Screening international visitors is common sense.

While the claim that "[a]n October 26 deadline that requires some foreign passports to have biometric facial-recognition technology is unrealistic and must be extended" may or may not be valid, and while there may or may not be problems with "an initiative requiring photos and fingerprints of some visitors, which is scheduled to be in place at land borders and ports-of-entry by end the end of the year," this article is classic shoddy journalism.

The facts simply don't bear out the idea that America's "tarnished image" or "stringent security" procedures are hurting America's tourism industry.

Looking at the numbers, America's travel industry, to the extent that it has a foreign tourist problem, has had the problem for more than a decade. In the short-run, however, foreign tourists seem to be returning in strong numbers after the 9/11 catastrophe.

But, of course, the headline is what most people take note of, and the headline screams:

US tourism ‘losing billions because of image’

The narrative: the elite media are slaves to it.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 May 2005 09:18 PM


Let's see... What is today? Hmmmm?

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 12, 2005 05:54 AM

The narrative... Whatever it is called it is soooo true! The media does have an agenda and it will not let facts get in the way. How true, how true!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 12, 2005 07:24 AM


Posted by: Thelma at May 12, 2005 07:57 AM

That just doesn't surprise me at all!... Is anyone else shocked by those facts? It would be shocking if the media decided to report the facts as they really are! I seldom watch the news any more... I go to the blogs. I do like CBN news! It the truth, like it or not...WILLisms.com is a great blog for news because WILLisms.com tells it like it is. Weather we like what we are hearing or not!...
In my opinion, The best television news reporter would be someone who doesn't reveal their own political ideas! Commentators and blogers are different...But reportes should report the facts and leave out the spin!

Posted by: Linda at May 12, 2005 08:48 AM

What would happen if we didn't have the spin? What would life be like without our liberal, commi media to tell us lies and spin the truth?

Posted by: Taffy at May 14, 2005 01:16 PM