The question in the headline is being asked around the world – and someone highly qualified to answer it has just visited Australia: Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe.
While Governor McAuliffe’s visit to Australia was primarily to promote trade and tourism (he also visited Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore) he freely admitted that there’s a lot of global concern about Donald Trump and his incoming administration.
Speaking exclusively to Global Travel Media, McAuliffe said people raised the subject of Trump everywhere he went.
Does he see Trump’s administration affecting tourism to the US?
“No,” McAuliffe said. “Zero chance. I get asked that quite a bit. Zero chance. I have known Trump for a long time; known Hillary [Clinton] a lot longer.
“International trade is a big part of the US trade activity, so it won’t affect it at all. We really encourage folks to come visit.
“We’ve been in Japan, Korea, Singapore. Everywhere I go they are very, you know, upset [about the prospect of Trump] and I’ve told them that once the governing gets going, I believe we can move forward and that’s why I’m here. We opened an office in Seoul, we opened an office in Singapore; we’re doubling down. So if people are worried about America, I’m here saying, no, no, no – we want more people to visit America. We want more tourist folks to come and we want more trade activity.”
McAuliffe said that the US election campaign had produced “a lot of rhetoric”.
“I think it was rhetoric, I hope it was rhetoric, because it was very divisive. I think that now he is president, the politics is over and he needs to govern and he realises the only way you can grow and diversify America’s economy is by dealing in world markets, global markets. I think he is going to realise that very quickly.”
McAuliffe is not a political supporter of Trump – Trump is a Republican maverick and McAuliffe is a Democrat. Virginia voted for Hillary Clinton. McAuliffe is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was co-chairman of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign and chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
So it’s significant that McAuliffe feels a Trump administration will make not the slightest difference to tourism to the US. It’s true that Trump is not particularly popular outside America – a poll conducted in Germany in October found that only 4% of Germans would have voted for Trump compared to 86% for Hillary Clinton.
But Trump hasn’t even taken office yet, and Trump in office is unlikely to be the same as Trump on the campaign trail.
Trump is not the main issue for McAuliffe, who is a passionate advocate for Virginia.
“If people are going to come to America they need to come to the greatest state in America, birthplace of our nation. In 1607, those three ships when they came, they didn’t go to Massachusetts, New York or Florida. No siree. They came right to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Folks in Australia love history, so we are just trying to talk a little about all the great history we have. We have 28 miles of ocean front, mountains, 350 golf courses; we’ve got everything you need. No need to go to any of those other states!”
Written by Peter Needham