Americans returning to US in greater numbers

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption US passport application applicants in Iran could soon get a US passport after a two-year ban was lifted. Image caption A blanket US travel ban on citizens of…

Americans returning to US in greater numbers

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption US passport application applicants in Iran could soon get a US passport after a two-year ban was lifted. Image caption A blanket US travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority countries is still in place

According to unofficial estimates, US citizens abroad have returned to their home country in greater numbers in the past year than at any time since 2000.

Data shows that arrivals from overseas have risen by more than a quarter since 2017, according to the firm ForwardKeys.

Part of the increase is due to a normalisation of relations with other countries following Donald Trump’s election.

In its analysis, ForwardKeys analysed 35m US passport applications between January 2017 and September 2018.

A nine-month exodus before the November 2017 election led to a fall of 14% in international travel in the second half of 2017.

At the same time, a blanket US travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority countries was still in place and seemed to contribute to a post-election lull.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A ban on visitors from Libya, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Chad, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia expired in October 2018.

Visitor numbers rose in the second half of 2018, with a 20% increase recorded from overseas in the final six months of the year.

The firm says that one reason for this is a conscious decision by the Trump administration to enforce travel bans more stringently than in previous years.

It also credits current business opportunities to recent travel and education reforms, as well as a small dip in the number of Americans travelling abroad to visit relatives.

Travel and tourism minister Johan Dippenaar says he doesn’t believe the rise can be definitively attributed to a change in Trump administration policy, however.

He told Norway’s VG newspaper that tourism at home “is growing as our economic growth is growing”, but adds that “what really counts is growing the quality of the visit and the visitor”.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A ban on visitors from Libya, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Chad, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia expired in October 2018.

Mr Dippenaar also said he believed “people are waiting [before travelling] to see what will happen with the Brexit situation and things regarding China. There are things in the news.

“The travel sector [regarding China] is very important for us. The government will seek to open new markets such as the UK, Taiwan and Dubai where we haven’t had a travel market in a long time, so we’re happy to get back into those places,” he added.

Richard Miles, CEO of airline company JADE International, said he expected continued growth, according to the BBC.

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