BEFORE JANUARY, AND prior to President Trump’s announcement of a ban on travel to the U.S. from seven countries in the Middle East, international inbound travel to the U.S. was going strong. But following implementation of the ban (or bans, since the initial ban was blocked by the courts in January only to be replaced earlier this month) that trend has begun to slow.
In January, international travel grew at a year-over-year rate of 7.8 percent, part of a months-long growth streak despite projections of decline for the sector, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI). The data for that TTI predated the ban, which happened Jan. 27, and the effects of the ban will be seen in the April TTI, said U.S. Travel Association Senior Vice President for Research David Huether. “International inbound travel is proving to be more resilient than we expected,” Huether said. “It will be very interesting to see if that resilience will withstand the negative publicity surrounding the January 27th executive order. It will be just as interesting to see if yesterday’s revised order will have any soothing effect, for which we will see solid data in May.”
However, more recent data from the Global Business Travel Association shows the ban is having a negative effect. In a poll of its members, GBTA found that 37 percent of U.S. business travel professionals expect some level of reduction in their company’s travel because of the revised executive order, and 47 percent of European travel professionals shared that feeling. Indeed, 17 percent of European travel professionals reported that their company had already cancelled business travel to the United States because of the executive orders, and 38 percent said their companys would be less willing to send business travelers to the United States in the future because of the orders. Also, 45 percent indicated their company will be less willing to plan future meetings and events in the United States.
“There is always the risk that closing our borders sends the message that the United States is closed for business, and the results of this poll show the perception of the United States as a welcoming destination for business travel has been altered,” said GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael McCormick. “As we always say, security is paramount, but GBTA continues to be a proponent for expanding proven security programs and developing new technology to facilitate information-sharing among governments to ensure travelers are always vetted properly, making us all more safe and secure.”
The poll also found that U.S. travel professionals cited potential for countries to respond to the ban negatively. Of those, 51 percent said the response would include making travel more difficult for U.S. travelers, 44 percent said they would cause complications in travel to the United States and 41 percent said there would be increased threats against U.S. travelers abroad.