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Warning of ‘broad chilling effect’ on travel to US

Mar 05, 2017

With President Donald Trump’s newly revised travel ban to the US due for release this week, the US Travel Association has added its voice to a chorus of concern, warning of “a broad chilling effect on demand for international travel to the United States”.

Trump’s initial temporary travel ban on arrivals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen was suspended following a court order. His revised order this week will remove Iraq from the list, officials say.

The ban produced confusion and chaos at some airports and much bad publicity.

Current developments alarming the travel industry include:

  • New York tourism agency NYC & Company now forecasts a drop in inbound international travel to New York City, with 300,000 fewer visitor arrivals compared to 2016. That would be the first drop since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008.
  • ForwardKeys, which tracks travel bookings, reported in February that international trends in bookings to the US have fallen 6.5% compared with the equivalent period the year before.” See: Travel to the USA suffers 6.5% Trump slump
  • The airfare prediction app Hopper found that flight search demand for travel to the US, taken from a sample of 122 countries, plunged by 17% after implementation of the travel ban, compared with the first three weeks in January.

The US Travel Association issued the following statement:

The American travel community is urging the Trump administration to include in its revised executive order on visas and immigration – expected in the coming days – language making clear that the US welcomes and values legitimate international business and leisure travellers. 

The plea comes amid mounting signs that President Trump’s initial order, which imposed restrictions on visitors from certain high-risk countries and pledged a security review of overall visa procedures, has had a broad chilling effect on demand for international travel to the United States. 

US Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow believes many international travellers may have drastically misunderstood Trump’s intentions as wanting to discourage international visitors generally, not just those who pose a security risk. 

“Security is a top priority for the U.S. travel community, but it’s critical to balance both sides of the ledger: make clear who is not welcome, but also who remains welcome,” Dow said. “Not doing so would be to double-down on doubts, discontent and division that risk significant economic harm.” 

Dow noted that inbound international travel is the No. 1 U.S. services export, and No. 3 export overall; without the exports represented by travel, the U.S. trade deficit would have been 18% higher in 2015. He further pointed out that travel supports 15.1 million un-exportable domestic jobs, and is a top 10 employer in 49 states and the District of Columbia. 

“International travel is integral to the president’s stated economic priorities of correcting the US trade imbalance and protecting jobs here at home,” Dow said. “As a businessman and hospitality entrepreneur, it is safe to say he never intended to discourage legitimate travellers from coming to the US. 

“As president, he seems to be catching his stride in terms of communicating the true vision and intent of his policies, and he has a golden opportunity to address some unintended consequences of his initial travel order when he reissues it in the coming days. Neither he, nor the US economy, can afford to squander it.”

While Trump is working on details of his revised travel order, he is standing firm on border security.

“We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders,” Trump told Congress last week.

He continued: “According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.  We have seen the attacks at home – from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon, and, yes, even the World Trade Center.

“We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany, and all over the world.  It is not compassionate, but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur,” the President said.

“Those given the high honour of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values. We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America. We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

“That is why my administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our nation safe and to keep out those out who will do us harm.”

Written by Peter Needham, e-Global Travel Media

 

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