It’s all anyone can talk about in the travel industry of late, and it’s shaping the world’s movements in ways we never expected.
And now, Travel Weekly US has claimed a decline in foreign tourism could be as much as 6.8 per cent, and it’s not limited to the seven Muslim countries targeted in the travel ban.
According to travel statistics specialists Forward Keys, flight passengers from the seven Muslim-majority nations named by Trump were down by 80 per cent in the last week of January and first week of February.
Meanwhile, online flight searches to the US out of all global destinations was recently down by 17 per cent.
And if this drop continues, this could mean billions of dollars of damage to the US tourism economy, not to mention jobs for people in hotels, restaurants, the transport industry, tour operators and more.
According to the Global Business Travel Association, just one week after Trump announced his ban against specific international travellers, business travel in the US had dropped close to $185 million.
But it’s not just business travel that’s suffering, with local tourist offices lamenting a similar fate. While New York City alone has a sturdy $60 billion tourism industry, the boss of the city’s tourism agency has recently claimed their effort to portray America as a welcoming destination to foreign citizens “was all in jeopardy”.
But speaking to Travel Weekly Australia during the Visit USA (VUSA) roadshows, VUSA president Kylee Kay said while they had anticipated “backlash” over the various political movements of late, interest in travelling to the US was actually on the rise.
“We definitely expected [interest in the US] to suffer backlash with the political movements of late, but we found there was a lot more talk than action,” Kay told us.
“Clients with dual passports are concerned about travel, both planned and unplanned, but there’s been more demand despite all the talk.
“The fact it’s so bizarre gives people more reason to talk about it, and the reasons to engage with the US is higher than usual.”
Kay also said a slight drop in overall travel to America couldn’t be instantly blamed on Trump, because some years people might just prefer a different destination for their holiday, or a trip to the US is more convenient at another time.
“What’s worse than being talked about? Not being talked about,” Kay added. “It’s business as usual for the US [and wholesalers] unless you hear otherwise.”
Airbnb recently used their SuperBowl ad spot to combat the Trump ban, being one of the many travel industry figures to chime into the global debate.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) President & CEO, David Scowsill did not hold back in an issued statement expressing the association’s view on the ban saying it goes against travel and tourism fundamentals and is “wrong” while urging POTUS Trump to reconsider his stance on immigration to the US.
“WTTC believes that all people have the right to cross international borders safely and efficiently for business and tourism purposes. The blanket suspension of admittance of travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen to the US flies against this principle,” he said recently.
Intrepid and MD James Thornton have also voiced strong opinions on the issue, stating, “Intrepid spoke out about the travel ban because we believe that businesses can be a force for good and should stand up for their values.”
“Global companies shouldn’t operate in silos and it’s particularly important to consider the part they can play in advocating for staff, customers, and the communities they operate in.”
Meanwhile, The Travel Corporation’s CEO Brett Tollman feels politics is not the realm of the travel industry, saying, “It’s not our place”.
TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer issued a decree condemning the travel ban as “cruel and discriminatory”.
But what does our own Aussie travel industry think about the ‘Trump Slump’? Are your US sales lagging? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to share your comments.