GBTA Projects Future Impact on U.S. Economy and Business Travel
Today, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold President Trump’s travel ban. So, what does this mean for the future of the travel industry? It cannot be denied that the cumulative impact of the travel bans over the past 18 months has been felt by our industry. The initial reaction alone to the first travel ban issued by the Administration was swift and strong – more than $185 million in business travel bookings were lost in one week.
As the second and then third executive orders on travel were narrowed, it lessened the impact, confusion and outcries, but the effect on business travel and the U.S. economy remains. In a poll of GBTA members last week, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of U.S. travel buyers reported that the Administration’s executive orders on travel have driven at least some level of reduction in their company’s travel. Additionally, 37 percent expect some level of reduction going forward because of today’s ruling to uphold the ban.
More than half (52 percent) of U.S. travel buyers also reported concerns of increased traveler harassment in general due to this Administration’s policies and messaging on travel and immigration, while 40 percent worry about a reduction in business travel to the United States. When asked about the lasting impact, U.S. buyers cited the potential for countries to respond, making travel more difficult for U.S. travelers (64 percent), complications in travel to the United States (56 percent), increased threats against U.S. travelers abroad (51 percent) and cancelled projects/contracts between U.S. and foreign companies (36 percent).
Perhaps most strikingly, 62 percent of U.S. buyers believe this Administration is having a negative impact on business travel. For every one percent decrease in business travel spending, the U.S. economy loses 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes.
GBTA also polled its European members, revealing that 31 percent of European travel buyers report that the Administration’s executive orders on travel have driven at least some level of reduction in their company’s travel. Additionally, 38 percent of European travel buyers say their willingness to plan meetings and events in the United States has decreased because of the Administration’s executive orders and a similar number (39 percent) say the Administration’s policies and messaging on travel and immigration have negatively impacted their company’s willingness to plan meetings and events in the United States.
The numbers clearly show there has been – and there will continue to be – an impact.
GBTA is deeply concerned about the long-term impact of these survey results, and the global perception of doing business with the United States. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and as the United States changes its policies about inbound travel, others are likely to do the same.
Business planning in an environment with turmoil and unpredictable change is difficult. Business leaders would much rather have certainty and predictability so that they can allocate capital and plan business appropriately for the long term. When policies are introduced without consulting stakeholders and presented without warning, it causes damage to the United States as a destination for foreign travel. However, it is not irreparable. The U.S. economy remains strong and is an attractive place for business.
Security is, of course, of the utmost importance. We can work to ensure safe and secure travel through other proven security measures including continued expansion of the Visa Waiver Program, the implementation of additional trusted traveler reciprocal agreements with countries where possible and encouraging relevant agencies to find more areas of cooperation to pool resources and intelligence.
Congress can work closer together in a bi-partisan fashion to encourage the White House to implement appropriate policies that impact travelers and businesses alike. Our shared mission is to implement policies going forward that preserve both our national security and our economy for the future.