On June 3, when seven people in England were killed in a terrorist attack on and around London Bridge, New Orleans saw a mass shooting on Tulane Avenue that killed three people and injured two others. The shooting total for that day around our city: 13 people. Now imagine if the prime minister of England had used that example of local violence as a pretext to call out Mayor Mitch Landrieu for America's rate of gun violence.
That's pretty much what President Donald Trump did to London Mayor Sadiq Khan after the London Bridge attack. While most of the rest of the world (including Gov. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and Landrieu) expressed sympathy and support for England, Trump tweeted, "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'"
Actually, Khan had said Britons had "no reason to be alarmed" if they saw an extra security presence on the streets in coming days, but Trump — in advance of a planned state visit to England — doubled down, calling Khan's explanation a "pathetic excuse."
Is that the way America treats an ally and friend who has experienced a misfortune?
Americans would have been outraged if a foreign leader attempted to score political points via Twitter after the Boston Marathon bombing or the Pulse nightclub shooting. It's no surprise that Britons feel the same way these days. Our hearts go out to them.
It's only five months into the Trump presidency, but already there are bellwether signs that international tourism is slumping since his election and inauguration. Jeff Glueck, CEO of the travel analysis firm Foursquare, wrote last month, "Our findings reveal that America's 'market share' in international tourism started to decline in October 2016, when the U.S. tourism share fell by 6 percent year-over-year, and continued to decrease through March 2017, when it dropped all the way to minus-16 percent. Currently, there is no sign of recovery in the data."
Another study, by Bloomberg, concluded, "There may be a negative Trump effect on tourism to the U.S., but at this point it seems more likely to be a modest drag than an anvil to the head."
That "anvil" may be found in Trump's proposed budget, which eliminates all funding for Brand USA, which promotes international tourism at the federal level. Funding for Brand USA comes from visa application dollars, and the tourism industry matches funds — meaning no tax dollars are involved. Trump proposes to spend Brand USA's $93 million on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) — a plan that has been denounced widely by hoteliers and others in the tourism industry.
New Orleans, like many American cities, depends heavily on tourism. Equally important, America depends on comity with its longtime allies. Given Trump's pattern of behavior toward the nations closest to us, tourism marketing will be a hard sell even with a full budget. When you insult your friends, you shouldn't be surprised if they start avoiding you.