U.S. Tourism’s “Trump Slump” Unfortunately Comes as No Surprise to GBTA

In the initial aftermath of the first two travel bans issued by the Trump Administration and the electronics ban, GBTA conservatively projected a loss of $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the United States in 2017 including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent. This projection came out in May in hopes that the Administration would recognize the negative economic consequences of continuing down a path of discouraging travel and portraying the United States as an unwelcoming destination.

Given the cumulative effect of ongoing negative rhetoric and polices that ultimately discouraged international travel to the country, travel fared even worse than our original projections. NBC News reported on new data out today showing the slump translates to a cost of $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs.

Globally travel is up, yet the United States’ share of global inbound travel has fallen. The latest data from the National Travel and Tourism Office shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending and a 4 percent decline in inbound travel.

From a business travel perspective, things could get worse if the negative perception of United States continues. In an earlier survey of GBTA’s European members, 45 percent indicated their company will be less willing to plan future meetings and events in the United States due to executive orders on travel. As meetings are often planned one to two years in advance, we could start seeing a dramatic impact on meetings travel to the United States beginning in 2018.

It is imperative that we reverse this tide of negative perception. A one percent decrease in business travel spending alone causes the U.S. economy to lose 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes. The Trump Administration could help turn things around by engaging in more positive rhetoric around immigration and visiting the United States. We also continue to urge the Trump Administration to consider the important lasting impact of business travel and enact policies going forward that preserve both our national security and our economy for the future.

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