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U.S. Tourism Takes Worrisome Hit From Travel Ban

Travel

[DIGEST: New York Times, CNBC]

Donald Trump’s American-exclusive policies and rhetoric have already affected the American tourism industry?

Multiple travel sites have recorded a decrease in flight search demand for trips to the United States, and they are attributing this to President Donald Trump’s travel ban on those from seven Muslim-majority countries. However, even with the recent amendment to the ban that excludes Iraq, these travel trends are unlikely to change.

The countries initially banned from entry for 90 days were Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq as of the original January 27 executive order, though it extends to 120 days for the admissions of refugees into the country.

Newly exempted are permanent residents and current visa holders. In addition to this and Iraq’s removal, the language that once offered preferential status to persecuted religious minorities — a move vastly interpreted as preferring other religious groups over Muslims — is also removed from the updated ban. Similarly, the indefinite block on the entry of Syrian refugees is gone from the ban, although it is replaced with a 120-day free that requires review and renewal.

The day following the Jan. 27 executive order, total net flight bookings to the U.S. between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 were down 6.5 percent compared to this time in 2016, according to Spain-based travel analysts ForwardKeys, who analyze 16 million flight reservations per day. This included an 80 percent drop in reservations from the countries included in Trump’s executive order and a 13.6 percent drop from Western Europe.

Travel
Credit: Source.

This was not the only organization to notice the slump; the U.N. World Tourism Organization also cautioned that travel demand to the U.S. could fall due to restrictions out of the U.S. In fact, in the month since that prediction, the U.S. has lost over $185 million in tourism revenue due to the ban’s introduction.

Travel consolidator sites such as Hopper and Kayak saw similar predictive trends early on: in an analysis of 303 million flight searches between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1, demand from 122 international countries to the U.S. fell 17 percent after the implementation of the travel ban when viewed against the first three weeks in January.

CheapFlights saw the same; searches on that site were down 38 percent from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, in comparison with the previous weekend, as well as down 16 percent from Feb. 10 to Feb. 14 compared to January’s average volume.

Emily Fisher, a spokesperson for CheapFlights, notes that, “This drop was more than a seasonal swing. It was most notable in the days right after the ban was enacted.”

Responsible Travel, out of Brighton, England, has seen a 30 percent increase in business, but a 22 percent decrease in inquiries, following the ban, for trips to the U.S.

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  • Stephanie Casella is a writer based just outside of New York City. She generally writes on politics, news, and culture, but occasionally delves into social issues, travel, science, food, and lifestyle.

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