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Here's a number Donald Trump won't like: 40,800.

That's the estimated number of jobs the United States has lost because fewer foreigners visited the country in 2017. It's nearly as many jobs as e-commerce giant Amazon is promising to create with its new second North American headquarters.

The drivers of international travel are complex. Currency swings, diverging economies, marketing campaigns can all affect where people go.

But a year into Mr. Trump's presidency, the travel industry is acknowledging the U.S. has an image problem. And it's costing the country billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs.

The newly created Visit U.S. Coalition, made up of a broad array of business groups, launched a campaign last week to enlist the White House's help in reversing the decline.

The coalition isn't pointing fingers directly at Mr. Trump, blaming instead the high U.S. dollar, cheap airfares to rival destinations and complex visa requirements. But it acknowledged that a more welcoming message from Washington would help.

Mr. Trump hasn't exactly been rolling out the welcome mat with his crackdown on immigrants, travel ban directed at mainly Muslim countries, protectionist rhetoric and racist remarks. Add mass shootings and racial tensions to the mix, and Trump's America may not look that great from foreign shores.

The United States is suddenly an outlier in a global tourism boom. Foreign tourist visits were up sharply virtually everywhere last year, including Canada and Mexico, according to a report released last week by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Not in the United States, where visits declined 4 per cent through the first half of 2017. The country's share of international long-haul travel has declined in each of the past two years – one of two of the world's 12 largest tourism markets that have seen visits drop.

Once a natural draw, the United States has become a much harder sell in many parts of the world. The largest drops in visits through the first six months of 2017 were from countries and regions that have been frequent targets of Mr. Trump's vitriol, including the Middle East, Mexico and Central America.

Interestingly, Canada is not one of those places. Canadian visits to the United States are up in the past year, even though polls show overwhelming dislike for Mr. Trump.

The image problem is affecting the U.S. economy in other ways. Not only are tourist visits down, but now many international students are shunning the country as well. Registrations last fall by new foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities fell 7 per cent from the previous year, bucking years of steady growth, according to a recent survey by the Institute of International Education. Nearly half of 500 institutions surveyed reported a drop in new enrolments. The main reasons cited were visa problems and the "social and political environment." Colleges in "red" or Republican states experienced the largest drop-off in new enrolments.

The United States' loss is Canada's gain. The number of full- and part-time foreign students at Canadian universities jumped 11 per cent last fall, compared with 2016, according to a compilation of data by Universities Canada. Universities Canada officials have cited Canada's reputation for "diversity and inclusion" as a key reason for the surge.

Mr. Trump grumbles that the rest of the world is screwing the United States on trade and stealing manufacturing jobs. He points to trade deficits as proof.

When it comes to tourism, the damage is entirely self-inflicted. The money that foreigners spend in the United States is recorded as a service export. The less foreigners spend on hotel stays, college tuition and the like, the worse the U.S. trade balance looks.

Mr. Trump is obsessed with trade deficits. But this one is largely of his own making.

The Visit U.S. Coalition estimates that the United States' declining share of travellers since 2015 has already cost 100,000 jobs and $32-billion (U.S.) in spending.

Mr. Trump's "America First" slogan may play well at home. In the rest of the world, it has tarnished the country's brand, with measurable economic costs.

As long as Mr. Trump is still ranting and tweeting, many foreigners will choose to go where they're wanted.

President Trump said on Sunday that he is 'not a racist' despite reports of his derogatory comments about immigrants from Haiti and Africa, adding that he was 'ready, willing and able' to reach a deal to protect immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Reuters