US visits to Spain and Greece surge – US Do

Image copyright AFP Image caption The US Treasury Department issued a statement saying that travel and trade were safe There has been a jump in Americans visiting Spain and Greece in the past month,…

US visits to Spain and Greece surge - US Do

Image copyright AFP Image caption The US Treasury Department issued a statement saying that travel and trade were safe

There has been a jump in Americans visiting Spain and Greece in the past month, the United States Department (US Do) says.

Figures for Greece show a 15% increase in arrivals from the US, compared with the year before.

Britain’s upcoming departure from the European Union has also affected travel, but a smaller scale, a Do official said.

Meanwhile, Spain and Italy have also seen increases.

The department said nearly 1.6 million Americans visited Greece during the first four months of this year, compared with 1.4 million in the same period last year.

Spain and Italy also saw a 15% rise, it said.

The US Treasury Department issued a statement saying that travel and trade were safe.

It pointed to increases in Americans visiting Greece and Spain, and travel was also on the rise in the US.

US-EU trade, via agencies such as the World Trade Organisation, is valued at about $253bn (£197bn).

“I do not think it is accurate to draw conclusions from this data to ascribe the reversal of our recovery to political factors,” US Do deputy assistant secretary for public affairs Peter Carr said in a statement.

“We are encouraged by recent numbers from non-European Union countries that show that this domestic strength – and the broader recovery that reflects our firm belief in free markets, innovation, and opportunity – is being felt by consumers across the globe.”

Greece, Italy and Spain took over as the top tourist destinations from Britain following the Brexit vote.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said Brexit is “not going to destroy tourism in Britain”.

He said: “We can see already these numbers are beginning to come back, and look at the reduction in the sterling value.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption As well as Gibraltar, France is an important tourism destination for the UK

Previous US policy had encouraged American tourists to avoid visiting EU countries until after Britain left the EU.

At the time, the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said: “In times of turmoil, tourists from around the world return to their home countries to travel, see and spend money”.

A Treasury Department official said this previous policy was largely unchanged by Brexit, although it now covered Spain and Italy as well as Greece.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Johnson has said Brexit is not going to destroy tourism in Britain

Greece and Spain have been particularly badly hit by the economic crisis and financial crisis in neighbouring Italy, which was named the second worst economy in the EU in 2016.

But both have seen a rise in tourism since Donald Trump was elected US President.

US visitors to Italy dropped by 34% in 2016, but this has now recovered to about the same level as in 2015.

American visitors to Spain have increased by 33% over the same period, and other US states such as Florida and Illinois have also seen a lift.

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