300,000 SEASONAL EMPLOYEES COULD BE CUT FROM U.S. WORKFORCE
Many industry leaders in panic
over fate of J-1 visas under Trump
By Johanna Jainchill
In a move that tourism leaders say
could cripple the seasonal travel
industry in the U.S., the Trump administration is reportedly considering an executive order that would
overhaul the J-1 visa program.
J-1 allows more than 300,000 visitors,
mostly students, to work temporarily in the
U.S. in one of 13 categories. The visitors often work in seasonal and remote tourist areas
such as national parks, beach communities
and ski resorts.
Industry leaders from Martha’s Vineyard
to Moab were in panic mode last month,
and in a late August conference call with the
White House, they urged the administration
to keep the program alive.
Andrew Todd, CEO of Xanterra Parks &
Resorts, the largest national park concession
operator, who was on the call, argued in a
letter to the administration that eliminating
the program “would have a devastating impact” on Xanterra and the national parks and
monuments it serves, since more than 20%
of its peak summer season workers are J-1
“Xanterra runs an exhaustive and inno-
vative domestic hiring program,” he wrote.
“Our experience with these efforts has
proven that we simply cannot find enough
American workers willing to work these
short-term, entry-level jobs.”
As first reported in the Wall Street Journal,
the impetus to curtail the program derived
from the “Buy American and Hire American”
executive order issued in April, which called
for a review of several programs, including
The curse of a strong dollar: U.S. seeing
unexpected slump in overseas visitors
By Johanna Jainchill
International visitation to the United States
is forecasted to contract this year, continuing a decline that began in 2016 following six
straight years of growth.
The strength of the dollar is widely
thought to be the main obstacle to inbound
travel. Since 2014, it has increased 18%,
reaching its highest level since 2002. That
was compounded by the weak British pound,
which fell to a 31-year low after the Brexit
vote in June 2016, and by currencies falling
to record lows last year in Canada and Mexico, the top two inbound markets overall.
“The biggest single thing that affects the
travel landscape right now is the ongoing
strength of the dollar in the markets we’re
active in,” Brand USA CEO Chris Thompson
told Travel Weekly earlier this year.
The downturn has prompted Brand USA
to push back to 2023 its initial goal of 100
million international visitors by 2021.
Before 2016, international inbound travel
had grown every year since the recession
ended, reaching a record 77.4 million visitors
in 2015. That number fell 2.4%, to 75.6 million last year.
This year, the numbers could be worse.
The U.S. Travel Association downwardly
revised its previously reported inbound
travel numbers last week, based primarily
on Department of Commerce data from the
first quarter indicating that arrivals between
January and March were down by 4.2%, to
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