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Trump Travel Ban Is Hurting the Travel Industry

Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency was predicated largely on two promises: more jobs and stiffer border security. Easier said than done. As it turns out, there are trade-offs that Trump either didn’t foresee or opted not to disclose.

Consider, for instance, the effect his contentious travel ban is having on the travel industry, a corner of the business world where Trump has particularly deep roots.

A comparison by Hopper of Internet searches for flights to the U.S. from other countries before and after the inauguration found a 17 percent falloff, indicating a significant drop in interest in visiting the U.S. Among the countries included in the travel ban, demand for U.S. flights plunged even more, by 33 percent. What the report’s author characterized as a “notable exception” was interest in U.S. travel from Russia, which spiked by 88 percent.

While a slight downturn in travel demand is normal at this time of year, it is typically off only around 2 percent; a 17 percent drop indicates there are other factors in play, and Trump’s election and travel ban are the only viable candidates.

The study detected no appreciable effect on airfares so far, but noted that “the airfare market typically takes weeks rather than days to react.”

The Global Business Travel Association, representing business travel managers, also reported a decline in travel demand attributable to the Trump travel ban, noting as follows:

USA system-wide business travel transaction levels were increasing by +1.2 percent the week before the travel ban but decreased by -2.2 percent the week after the travel ban for a net negative industry impact of -3.4 percent in one week. In that week, approximately $185 million in business travel bookings were lost as the uncertainty surrounding travel in general had a rippling effect on traveler confidence.

Explicitly linking the travel decline to employment, the GBTA estimates that every 1 percent change in annual business-travel spending translates into 71,000 fewer jobs, $3 billion in lost wages, and a $5 billion loss in GDP.

Mike McCormick, executive director and COO of the GBTA, concluded the report with a plea for a more nuanced balance between personal security and economic security. “We urge the Trump administration to pause this travel ban action, reassess its path forward with key stakeholders and preserve both our national security AND our economy for the future.”

Reader Reality Check

Does Trump’s travel ban go too far?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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