/Trump resort revenue has gone up after presidential visits

Trump resort revenue has gone up after presidential visits

 

 

President Donald Trump outside the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

President Donald Trump meets members of Bikers for Trump and other supporters outside the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Aug. 11, 2018. | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Trump is staying at his luxury resort on Ireland’s west coast this week.

Donald Trump is on a global tour of his own businesses — and it’s putting more money in his bank account.

On Wednesday, the president traveled to his luxury resort on Ireland’s west coast for a visit that will bring world-wide publicity and increased security to the location, and, if past trends hold, more revenue.

Revenue increased in 2018 at many of the Trump developments that he visited that year, according to Trump’s most recent personal financial disclosure forms.

There’s Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., where he dines on steak dinners; Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, where he spends his weekends; and Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, where he vacations over the summer. And revenue increased by $3.1 million at Trump Turnberry, the resort on the Scottish coast he visited in July 2018, according to the documents.

It’s difficult to know the exact reason for the boost — and increased revenue doesn’t always equal an overall profit — but some see a link between Trump’s presence and revenue.

“I’m sure publicity can’t hurt,” said Laurence Hirsh, president of Golf Property Analysts and a former president of the Society of Golf Appraisers. “There’s people that don’t like him that would go for the novelty of it.”

The trend is especially notable as Trump’s overall income dipped slightly from $450 million in 2017 to $434 million in 2018. At least $47 million of that money came from from 16 properties around the globe, according to the disclosure forms. While not all of the foreign properties reported revenue boosts, six of them — two in Scotland and one each in Ireland, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and the Dominican Republic — collectively brought in more than $6.9 million in additional revenue. The figure includes $3.2 million from the sale of land in the Dominican Republic.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Trump and first lady Melania Trump will stay at Trump International Golf Links in Doonbeg, Ireland — the final leg of a week-long trip to Europe.

Trump considered canceling his trip to Ireland when the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, scoffed at meeting at his golf course, the Irish Times reported in May. The president would have likely traveled to Scotland, where he has two golf courses. Instead, the men two agreed to meet at the Shannon airport.

Trump’s trip to his Irish golf course has once again led to criticisms that Trump is using the presidency to make money for his own business. It marks the second time he has visited one of his properties outside the United States since he was sworn into office.

“U.S. foreign relations should never rise and fall on the financial interests of the president and the ability to promote his own property,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which examined his financial disclosures.

The White House and Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment. After landing in Ireland, Trump told reporters that he was not there to promote his resort.

“I’m staying here overnight, and I thought this would be the best place. I’d love to come to Ireland and stay at Doonbeg,” he said. “This trip is really about great relationships that we have with the U.K. And I really wanted to do this stop in Ireland. It was very important to me because of the relationship I have with the people and with your prime minister.”

Trump has long faced ethics criticisms over his decision to not fully separate from his family business, the Trump Organization, after being elected. The president still owns his business but placed his holdings in a trust designed to hold assets for his benefit. He can receive money from the trust at any time.

Several House Democratic committees have demanded Trump release his tax returns to gain more information about his finances, but he and his staff have refused. The Trump Organization, a private company that has more than 500 businesses, does not have to publicly release financial information in the United States.

As president, Trump has visited one of his properties on roughly 250 days, according to a compilation of information released by the White House. He even stopped in Hawaii on his way to Asia in 2017, staying for a few minutes to thank employees for their hard work.

Many of those properties have seen an uptick in revenue. The Trump National Doral golf resort in Florida increased its revenue by around $1.2 million in 2018. Revenue at the Trump International Hotel in Washington — which has become a top destination for Republicans — increased by $400,000. And the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., and the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia saw its revenue go up more than $500,000 each.

The one major exception is Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s now well-known resort in South Florida. Despite doubling its initiation fee to $200,000, the resort’s revenue dropped slightly in 2018, to $22.7 million.

Trump’s properties have been a welcoming oasis for a president who often faces protesters when he travels.

In England this week, tens of thousands of people turned out to oppose Trump’s presence. But in Doonbeg, Trump is being welcomed warmly — not so much as president of the United States but as the largest employer in the village of 754 people.

“As a small country with close ties to the U.S., most Irish people are pragmatic about keeping cordial relations,” said Hugh Linehan, arts and culture editor at the Irish Times. “You can see a turbocharged version of that pragmatism around Doonbeg, where there’s obviously a more direct financial benefit to be gained.”

Trump bought Doonbeg for $11 million in 2014 and proceeded to spend more than $30 million for renovations, according to news reports. In 2018, financial forms show Trump earned $14.5 million at Doonbeg in what he describes as “golf-related revenue,” up about 2 percent from the previous year.

But the rising revenue doesn’t necessarily mean the resort is a big money maker for Trump.

According to documents filed with the Irish government, the resort has still lost millions overall. The discrepancy, some experts say, stems from Trump incorrectly listing his company’s revenue instead of his personal income on his financial disclosure statement. Federal law requires top administration officials to list their personal assets and income.

In honor of Trump’s visit Wednesday, U.S. flags have been erected around the village, which is offering free pony and paddle boat rides, traditional Irish music and dancing on Main Street.

“There have been calls from local politicians to give him a warm welcome because he has done so much for the region,” said Sarah Daniel, an American transplant who lives in Clare, the county where the golf course is located.