How real is the “Trump Slump”?

Today the White House announced a delay in the much anticipated immigration Executive Order that would impose a new travel ban, which would replace the original Executive Order that was ruled to be unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals.  That could be good news as members of the US travel industry attend ITB next week in Berlin to promote the US to the German market. Yet still it is unclear as to what impact the administration’s action has had on inbound travel.

In barely a month after the original Executive Order curtailing travel to the United States from seven Muslim dominant countries, trade and consumer media and some within the travel industry itself are calling the resulting diminished interest in America to be called the “Trump Slump.”  A major piece was published on February 28 in The Guardian in Britain.  Some of its statistics are listed in this piece.

While it is not yet clear that this result is specifically tied to the original Executive Order, speculation that this is the case is rampant.

If the Executive Orders and travel hesitation is the case, inbound travel companies will feel the brunt of the lost business.

While there is a reported drop in American flight searches of 80% from the seven cited nations, overall searches for flights to the United States from predominantly Muslim nations is down 30%, according to air booking site Hopper.

Another site, Kayak, found a 58% decline in searches for flights to Tampa and Orlando from the United Kingdom, plus a 52% decline for Miami.  San Diego was down 43%, Las Vegas 36% and Los Angeles 32%.

While flight prices are holding steady, Kayak is citing a drop in hotel prices of 39% in Las Vegas and 32% in New York. One can speculate that the lower hotel prices might offset some of the diminishing interest in U. S. travel.

The Global Business Travel Association is one of many trade organizations quantifying the lost revenue since the Executive Order. It quantifies the losses to date at more than $185 million.

More importantly, overall international searches for flight information to the United States is down 17% overall worldwide with the notable exception of Russia, where searches are up 88%.  Hopper says that U. S. searches are down in 94 of 122 countries they follow.

Forward Keys, another travel industry source, reports U. S. bookings are down 6.5% since the Executive Order.

If these reports reflect only a short window in time or, more significantly, a growing trend, international inbound tour operators need to be prepared to inundate Congress, the U. S. Department of Commerce (which has yet to capture this impact in its travel projections), and Brand USA with changes in business numbers on a month to month basis, so the discussion includes the costs to the travel industry potentially attributable to these Executive Orders.

IITA also welcomes your input on any changes you are experiencing in your business which might be a result of these actions and the accompanying perception of difficulty of travel to the United States. We anticipate that this will be a major issue throughout 2017.