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International visitors turning away from US, with one exception: Russia

A new study finds people in foreign countries have cooled to the idea of flying to the United States since President Donald Trump took office.

According to the airfare analytics firm Hopper, there has been a 17 percent drop in commercial airline flight searches from foreign countries to the U.S.

"What is surprising to us is that you usually see in an increase in flight searches after an event, even terrorist attacks, as people look to rebook flights," said Patrick Surry, chief data strategist at Hopper. "But in this case, there is simply a drop."

The reason?

Surrey said he expects it's likely due to foreign travelers rethinking the idea of visiting the U.S., especially since Trump pushed to ban residents of seven mainly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. The attempted travel ban has been reversed, at least temporarily, by a federal judge.

"It's hard to know exactly why flight searches to the U.S. have fallen off, but I think the perception is the door is closing and the U.S. is not as welcoming," said Surry.

Hopper reports the weekly search demand for flights to the U.S. is down 33 percent from those countries included in the travel ban.

There is, however, one country where Hopper has seen a surge in interest by potential visitors to the U.S.: Russia. Hopper said U.S. flight search demand spiked 88 percent in Russia since Trump's inauguration.

"I can't speak to what's causing the interest in Russia, but that increase definitely jumped out at us since search demand is down in so many other countries," said Surry.

After analyzing about 3.5 billion price and itinerary searches since New Year's Day, Hopper has found searches of flights to the U.S. are down in 94 out of 122 countries.

So far, airlines have not reported a drop in load factors for international flights to and from the United States. However, carriers typically do not characterize traffic flow during a quarter unless there is a major event that prompts a dramatic change in demand.