A photo taken in Feb. 2019 of a police officer checking the identification documents of members of anti-capitalist group Wall Streets United outside of a Zara store in New York’s Times Square. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Amid the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and a state of war in Syria, it is easy to forget that Americans are indeed still proud of their neighbors. In a recent study conducted by international tourism agency IATA, about 60 percent of the country’s hotels surveyed said that they welcomed American tourists in 2018, even though most Americans are still avoiding travel to war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. IATA surveyed 230 hotels that are located near America’s major tourist destinations. According to IATA, visitors are increasingly choosing the Caribbean as a prime vacation spot, despite recent political unrest in that region. The survey also found that tourists in the U.S. are up 8 percent on the year.
The growth is especially impressive considering many Americans used the travel bug as a way to cool off in the sweltering summer sun during President Donald Trump’s tenure, avoiding the sunny Caribbean islands where air conditioning units have been leaving the bars and cabanas largely empty. There’s one potential reason why Americans are returning to warmer climate destinations. In the months after Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May, the No. 1 destination for American tourists was the island of Turks and Caicos, IATA found. That’s followed by the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Dominica.
At the time of his announcement, Trump threatened to sanction Turks and Caicos, which is the largest British overseas territory, saying that he would “target the Turks and Caicos Islands for loss of U.S. investment and jobs.” There have been numerous complaints about the Turks and Caicos’ allegedly corrupt government. Last year, President Trump continued his boasts about the better economic situation in the islands, saying: “My predecessor had such a poor record I wasn’t sure they were even Americans.” (His successor, President Trump, has also claimed that he was “very strong on terrorists.”)
Earlier this month, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook announced that after Iranian political prisoners are freed, they’ll be escorted to the airport by U.S. military personnel, followed by a ceremony on the island of Vieques, which was once the United States military base where US Marines fired nuclear shells at their enemies. The U.S. is apparently hoping that this display of bravado will restore respect for the United States abroad and appeal to foreign investors.