Tourism slumps

Tourists are vital to running America’s cities.

The number of overseas visitors to the U.S. has dropped 17% since its peak in 2000 — and 20% in the top 15 cities — costing more than $100 billion in lost visitor spending through 2005. In Los Angeles, tourism is expected to add $13 billion in direct cash to the economy this year, but from 2000 to 2005, the number of overseas travelers declined 27%.

Mayors are worried, nearly 75% saying that entry procedures and treatment by U.S. immigration and customs officials reinforce negative perceptions of the country. [LA Times]

The U.S. is likely to cede to China in the next couple of years its position as the third-most-visited international destination. France and Spain are the top international tourism destinations.

Factoid: American Tours International brings in 1 million tourists each year.