Regardless of what you think of him as president, Donald Trump has been bad for the American travel industry.
There is, of course, conjecture as to how badly the White House’s policies and Donald Trump’s rhetoric have affected the $250 billion national travel industry—but, the point is that it most certainly has.
At least that’s the lesson from Bloomberg’s latest discussion with U.S. Travel Association’s chief executive officer, Roger Dow, who explained that the early days of the Trump presidency have had an ill effect on travel and pose a threat to years of progress made under Obama’s tenure.
U.S. Travel, after championing Trump’s election as a hotel owner and brand ambassador, has since made a recent statement to implore the president to do more to woo travelers than to banish them.
Its recent statement reads, via Bloomberg: “Mr. President, please tell the world that while we’re closed to terror, we’re open for business. Imbalanced communication is especially susceptible to being ‘lost in translation’—so let’s work together to inform our friends and neighbors, who could benefit from reassurance, not just who is no longer welcome here, but who remains invited.”
As noted, President Obama and Brand USA helped cultivate and foster a renewed passion for travel to the United States with International visitors “from 51 million in 2006 to nearly 78 million in 2015.”
This is following a “lost decade” as it is referred to by U.S. Travel. The report explains this is the period that saw a steady decline in International visitors following the 9/11 attacks as well as the recession later during the decade.
According to Dow and U.S. Travel, there is a possibility for more waning years under the Trump administration.
Dow puts a drop in visitors at as much as four percentage points and cautions: “We haven’t seen the big damage yet. What we’re getting is the noise level.”
Back in February, NYC & Company proclaimed New York had its first drop in visitors since 2008. Officials at the time felt the area would lose about 300,000 visitors per year and blamed Trump’s rhetoric and travel bans for the decrease. At the same time, ASTA had similar lessons gleaned from the budding Trump travel landscape.
Eben Peck, ASTA’s senior vice president of government affairs and communication, stated simply, “We are seeing an impact on corporate travel business and on outbound and inbound travel.”
This is before a more recent electronics ban affected several airlines and countless travelers.
A more concrete number placed on the first travel ban’s effect is $185 million; That’s a mark GBTA explains as, “business travel bookings [that] were lost as the uncertainty surrounding travel, in general, had a rippling effect on traveler confidence.”
One thing Dow would like to see is clarification on the administration’s policies. Perhaps, transparency would convince visitors to take another chance at the United States: “Donald Trump understands it, he is a hotel owner. He understands the international traveler.”
It’s hard to put the travel ban back in the bag when one border anecdote after another illustrates a country highly cynical of its international visitors.
One thing we travel enthusiasts understand well is that the entire world is filled with astounding, vibrant destinations. The international traveler has plenty to choose from when considering a vacation. Regardless of impetus, need or efficiency, Trump’s rollout of his travel agenda hasn’t done any favors for the industry.