Would a Trump Travel Ban Effect Tourism and Business to the U.S.?
As promised during his campaign, President Trump certainly hit the ground running. One of his first executive orders upon taking office was to impose an international inbound travel ban.
Specifically, the order halted anyone traveling from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for the next 90 days. The order also suspended U.S. refugee resettlement for a period of 120 days. An Appeals court refused to reinstate the travel ban after a lower court found the travel ban unconstitutional. More than likely, the constitutional fight will now go to the US Supreme Court.
Massive Travel Industry in USA Will be Effected by Trump Ban?
While it’s evident there’s a lot at stake in the nation’s $2-trillion travel industry, reactions to the proposed ban were mixed. To say the least, the proposed Trump travel ban certainly sparked controversy and disagreement, both domestically and across the globe.
Travel Executives Opinions on Travel Ban
Executives from some of the country’s largest companies stepped to the forefront of the issue. The Trump travel ban hits home for Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who moved to the U.S. from Iran in 1978. The Seattle Times reported that, in a recent e-mail to employees, Khosrowshahi called Trump’s order “reactionary versus visionary.”
Expedia backed up those words by joining the online sales giant Amazon in filing a declaration as part of Washington State’s lawsuit against President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security. In what is sure to start a legal battle thru-out the judicial system, a federal judge in Seattle ruled in favor of the plaintiff, issuing a judgment overturning the Trump travel ban questioning its legality. An appeals court also upheld the federal ruling. The Trump administration has obviously promised to fight the appellate decision.
Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, recently expressed concern that the travel ban would create obstacles for U.S. companies to recruit good talent from abroad. It is reported that nearly 200 Google employees belong to countries that are included in the proposed ban.
Other industry experts appear to echo this concern in predicting that some of the countries affected a the ban could retaliate against the U.S. and impose similar travel restrictions, potentially bringing the ability of many travelers, both foreign and American, to travel in either direction to a standstill.
The original order also invoked an emotional response from TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer,who in a recent LinkedIn post said the company was against the order “not just because we are a global business with a diverse workforce, but because we are human beings and citizens who respect and love the fabric of our nation.”
Yet there are others who aren’t so quick to denounce the travel ban itself as having an immediate disastrous impact. Try booking a flight to the United States from any of the countries included in the travel ban and you’ll quickly find that no U.S.-based carrier offers a direct flight from those nations, reportedly because they generate so few travelers to the U.S. Further, according to the U.S. Travel Association, none of the seven countries included in the ban are even among the top 20 travel markets in regard to its citizens traveling to the U.S.
There are others that are most concerned with the long-term image it could portray to future travelers considering visiting the U.S. This is perhaps the larger question in terms of a potential travel ban and the backlash that it might have on international travel. Those involved with marketing Florida for instance, must surely be concerned with the image the Trump travel ban portrays to international travelers.
US Travel Association and Travel Ban
Jonathan Grella, executive vice president of public affairs for the U.S. Travel Association, recently shared “People will be understanding and forgiving when security is your motivation, but if they are left with other takeaways that leave the impression that they’re not welcome here, than that’s obviously a different story.”
Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization, also issued in a statement, “Besides the direct impact, the image of a country which imposes travel bans in such a hostile way will surely be affected among visitors from all over the world and risk dumping travel demand to the USA.”
There are others who point out that travel to the U.S. prior to the proposed Trump travel ban has already been in decline. This due to the exchange rate and the strong dollar in relation to foreign currencies.
Decline in USA Travel Due to Trump Travel Ban
As reported in the New York Times this past week, Responsible Travel, an England-based travel agency, said they experienced a 57 percent decrease in revenue over the past year from trips to the U.S.. This prompted the agency to add it to their “not hot” list in 2017.
Also mentioned is a quote from Jason Clampet, editor in chief of the popular travel website Skift.com.
“It just contributes to a sense of unease. Not knowing what the government might do means people will make a safe choice, if they make a decision at all. The U.S. was already positioned to have a poor year because of the strength of the dollar, and this contributes to another reason not to go.”
Clampet added however, “The flip side is most Americans with summer vacations do them domestically,” which is certainly a sentiment that many in the travel and hospitality industry hope to bank on this year. While it may be too early for analysts to quantify the direct impact of the travel ban in terms of dollars, it is quite sure there will definitely one.
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