MCALLEN, RGV – Complaints that President Trump’s rhetoric towards immigrants and foreigners was hurting tourism may have started along the Texas-Mexico border but they have now reached New York City.

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson (pictured above) says he is seeing more global travel buyers staying away from the United States and going to Europe and Asia instead.

Asked by Fortune’s assistant manager editor, Leigh Gallagher, why that is, Sorenson said:

“The rest of the world sees [the U.S. administration’s] comments as being: “You’re really not welcome to the United States.”

Asked when he started to see the impact of this, Sorenson said:

“It probably started first with the Mexicans, right after the election, for obvious reasons concerning the rhetoric about Mexico. Certainly, by the time you’re into February with the very focused language on NAFTA, there is a strong sense in Mexico that ‘we better be cautious,’ and inbound visits from Mexico falls very quickly. You get the Muslim travel ban that comes fairly quickly too. And while it focused on countries that don’t really drive much volume to the United States, the language around it, and the fact of it itself, is heard in many countries around the world as again a sign of something other than welcome.”

Asked by Gallagher if there is any numerical data to back up this claim, Sorenson said:

“It’s not crystal clear yet. But it looks like we may be losing what I would guess is a few million visitors to the United States this year. Last year we had probably about 75 million visitors from all foreign countries, including Mexico and Canada. Maybe we’ll lose two or three [million] this year. But they spend, on average, $5,000 a person. So [the impact] builds, up whether it’s jobs that are created here or something else.”

Click here to read the Fortune magazine story.

Morning Joe

Gallagher was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show today. Host Joe Scarborough said if two to three million tourists are abandoning the United States it is clear that “New York City is getting pounded.”

Gallagher responded: “He (Sorenson) said we are really suffering when it comes to inbound tourism because we are losing to markets like Europe and Asia because of the Administration’s comments. Even though it is not the countries that send a lot of tourists, like Europe and Asia, it sort of sends a message that you are not welcome here.”

Gallagher repeated Sorenson’s claim that the U.S. may lose two to three million inbound visitors because of the Trump Administration’s comments about immigrants and foreigners.

“He said, it started when President Trump made the comments about Mexico, when he entered the campaign back in 2015. No one thought he was going to win at that point so once he won, then the immediate concern, Arne said, was Mexico,” Gallagher said.

“But, of course, later with the travel ban and talking about Muslim countries and not being welcome to those, it just sent a message around the world that, you know, what could be next? This is no longer a welcoming place.”

Katty Kay, anchor for BBC World News America, was on Morning Joe with Gallagher. She said what she was hearing backed up Sorenson’s analysis

“Europeans made no secret of it, they didn’t want Donald Trump to be elected, and have been kind of been horrified by some of the things he has said. Particularly about foreigners and immigrants in the country. And they have decided, we don’t want to go. We don’t want to feel like we are endorsing the Administration. We can go on holiday somewhere else. It’s almost like the resist movement outside the country, that are acting with their pockets,” Kay said.

Kay pointed out that people used to say they would not be visiting the United States because the dollar was so high.

“Actually, the dollar has come down against European currencies. It is not so much that. It’s a conscious decision that I have heard people say, I don’t want to go to the United States at the moment.”

Gallagher responded: “This is an under-reported story. I don’t think this has really been talked about. It is not just the people that are targeted by the travel ban. It is just the perception around the world. And I am hearing this from other people as well in the hospitality industry.”

RGV Perspective

In the Rio Grande Valley, the decline in Mexican tourists and shoppers has been attributed to three factors: President Trump’s rhetoric towards Mexico and Mexicans, the devaluation of the Peso, and gang and cartel violence in Reynosa.

However, many elected officials, community leaders, business owners, bankers and hotel managers in the Rio Grande Valley have included Trump’s rhetoric as a factor. They say Mexican visitors no longer feel welcome.

Here, in no particular order, are some the stories the Rio Grande Guardian has posted about Trump’s rhetoric and the names of the people complaining about it:

Hernan Gonzalez, former executive director of the Development Corporation of Mercedes:

To counter Trump rhetoric, Mercedes is to market itself more in Monterrey

Barry Patel, former mayor of South Padre Island:

Patel: Trump rhetoric is hurting SPI Semana Santa bookings

Joe Quiroga, president of Texas National Bank, and Barry Patel, former mayor of South Padre Island:

South Texas business leaders concerned about Trump policies

Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal:

Villarreal calls on Cruz to help stop ugly rhetoric towards Mexico

La Unión del Pueblo Entero executive director Juanita Valdez-Cox:

LUPE: Mexicans to march with Muslims in opposition to racism, anti-immigrant rhetoric

Former Texas Border Coalition chairman J.D. Salinas:

Texas Border Coalition condemns ‘hateful rhetoric’

Rio Grande Guardian columnist Joe Lopez:

López: It’s Hispanic Heritage Month — Be Strong, Take Courage

Lopez: Let’s have a Border Appreciation Day in opposition to Trump

Rio Grande Guardian columnist Gary Mounce:

Mounce: Trump’s Past, Our Present, Mexico’s Future

Mounce: Connect the Dots: U.S. . . . Mexico Aid and Trade

Hidalgo Mayor Martin Cepeda:

Border Mayor: Trump is not my President

Congressman Henry Cuellar:

Cuellar: President Trump’s rhetoric on Mexico is hurting border business

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling:

Darling: McAllen to launch $250,000 marketing campaign in Mexico

Former San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Vice President LeRoy Cavazos-Reyna:

Cavazos-Reyna: RGV communities should embrace #OneBorder initiative

McAllen hotel manager Omar Guevara:

RGV hotel manager: More needs to be done to attract Mexican tourists