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As if most tourists care for politics? Changing trends in tourism and financial issues are far more likely reasons...

As a previously frequent tourist to the US, I assure you politics is an important consideration for me and my family. Many people of my acquaintance have also taken politics into account when making vacation plans.

I’m not aware of any studies on this, so anecdote is all I have. But for me, it’s “obvious” that politics is a factor rather than “obvious” that tourists only think of trends and exchange rates.

In fact, it’s now common (at least in my circle) for people to plan vacations to avoid changing planes in the USA, because of the delays in customs and the risks of missing connections or being denied entry to the US (required in the USA even if you never leave the transfer area).

part of the problem is that airports in the US have no "transfer area" - international departure lounges are not set up to require passing through immigration if you want to leave them - many are connected directly to domestic departure lounges (SFO is an example)

It'a not a decision made by US airports, the US requires every person who lands on US soil to clear US customs even if that person's final destination is outside the US (ie. the US doesn't allow sterile transit).

> It'a not a decision made by US airports, the US requires every person who lands on US soil to clear US customs even if that person's final destination is outside the US (ie. the US doesn't allow sterile transit).

Is it true that they must clear customs _in addition to_ passport/immigration control? If so that is indeed unusual.

Yes, you have to claim your bags, pass thru customs and then check them on to your next flight

Yes but the US is very unusual in this practice, I don't know of anywhere else in the Western World where this happens.

We traveled a couple of years ago to Milan via Amsterdam. My recollection is that we did have to clear customs in Amsterdam.

You were entering the Schengen area - the group of European nations who have a combined border - once you enter one of those countries you can freely travel to the others (so no passport booths on the roads on the borders between the Netherlands and Italy) - your flight from Amsterdam to Milan was an internal flight.

If you had flown into Amsterdam and transited to Moscow you would have gone thru metal detectors to the departure lounge, but not thru immigration

You traveled to a European city to a European city a Milan to Amsterdam flight would be a domestic flight. Did you need to go through customs again in Milan

I think France is the same.

You can't rule out the horror stories of foreign travelers being harassed and abused at US border checkpoints.

I'm inclined to think it's had a chilling effect when tourists are making their holiday choices. It's pretty easy to skip the USA and find another destination.

We've been hearing those stories way more in the Bush era when that became a thing, and even in the Obama era, with various TSA related news (several harassment stories have been posted on HN over the years too) -- and yet even during Bush's years arrivals year rising (click: "max" to see from 2000 or so):


If anything, despite some stagnation, the trend is more or less the same and still rising in 2017 and 2018 (click "5 years"):


Everyone has heard the horror stories of people who accidentally run foul of US immigration - one big problem is that the US is one of the few countries without exit procedures, no exit stamp in your passport means no way to prove what date you left - if the US authorities screw up collecting that exit info from the airline you end up in the pokey next time you visit.

Also some countries are now issuing travel warnings about the US because of the mass shootings, especially those aimed at visitors.

For example (directly from govt travel websites):

NZ - "Exercise increased caution in the United States due to the threat of terrorism." ..."There is a heightened threat of terrorism in the United States and terrorists remain likely to try to carry out attacks. A number of politically motivated attacks have occurred in recent years, causing multiple deaths and injuries."

Australia - "The United States has more violent crime than Australia, although it rarely involves tourists. Shootings, including mass shootings, can occur in public places"

UK - "Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the USA. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should monitor media reports and remain vigilant at all times."

Here's a more general survey of such travel warnings https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/07/world/us-travel-advisorie...

They do. Both myself and a few people are know very much lost interest in visiting the US for a while. Even ignoring the current politics, I'm keen to wait until the immigration becomes more civilised. (got tired of the extra wait in the special room)

This also makes the idea of visiting Canada much harder, since most flights stop over in the US, causing visa headaches.

I'm in the US on a work visa. Been flying in and out pretty often both before and after Trump. My observation is that standing in immigration line is annoying, but not more than it used to be.

With how prominent the US is in the news cycles here overseas, it definitely does. Especially with huge influx of mass shootings, many people in my friend circles have stated that they simply don't feel safe visiting the USA.

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