New York Times
By Shivani Vora
February 20, 2017
The impact was immediate: Following President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, the demand for travel to the United States took a nosedive, according to data from several travel companies and research firms.
The airfare prediction app Hopper, for example, analyzed 303 million flight searches between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1 and found that flight search demand from 122 international countries to the United States dropped 17 percent after the implementation of the travel ban, compared with the first three weeks in January.
Demand bounced back slightly after the ban was temporarily lifted on Feb. 3 but was still down by more than 10 percent as of Feb. 10, compared with the first three weeks in January, said Hopper’s chief data scientist, Patrick Surry.
The online travel site Cheapflights.com saw international searches for flights to the United States drop following the ban; searches were down 38 percent from Jan. 27 to 29 compared with the previous weekend, and down 16 percent from Feb. 10 to Feb. 14 compared with the average volume in January, said Emily Fisher, a spokeswoman for the company.
“This drop was more than a seasonal swing,” she said. “It was most notable in the days right after the ban was enacted.”
In addition, the Swedish travel search engine Flygresor.se analyzed 2.5 million flight searches made on its website and app the weekend following the announcement of the travel ban and found that searches to the United States declined by 47 percent, compared with the same period the year before.
Flight bookings to the United States also declined following the ban, according to ForwardKeys, a travel research company in Valencia, Spain. The company looked at 16 million flight reservations a day between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 and found that international bookings to the United States were down 6.5 percent, compared with the same period last year.
Some travel companies, too, saw a dip in requests and bookings for trips to the United States.
Responsible Travel, a tour operator in Brighton, England, had a 22 percent decrease in trip inquiries to the United States following the travel ban. In contrast, the company’s overall business is up 30 percent this year, compared with the same period last year, said its chief executive, Justin Francis.
“Prior to the ban, the U.S. was one of our best-selling destinations, but our customers are now choosing to travel to other countries,” he said.
And from Jan. 27 to Feb. 16, the tour operator Intrepid Travel saw a 21 percent decrease in sales for trips to the United States from travelers in Australia and a 30 percent decrease in sales from travelers in Britain. This is a stark contrast from early January, when the company saw record booking numbers from travelers in these countries, said Intrepid’s North American director, Leigh Barnes.
The short-term weaker demand for travel to the United States aside, the bigger concern for travel analysts is the ban’s potential to damage the country’s lucrative tourism industry in the coming years. Statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, part of the United States Department of Commerce, show that tourism-related spending in the United States was $1.56 trillion in 2015; tourism created 7.6 million jobs in the United States that same year.
According to Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics, part of the economic research firm Oxford Economics, President Trump’s executive order is part of a broader policy platform and “America first” rhetoric that is creating international antipathy toward the United States and already affecting traveler behavior.
Earlier this month, his group conducted a study of travel to Los Angeles County and found that the county could suffer a potential three-year loss of 800,000 international visitors as a direct result of the ban, the equivalent of $736 million in tourism spending.
“It doesn’t take a lot of uncertainty or adverse sentiment to affect travel decisions,” Mr. Sacks said.
And Rummy Pandit, the executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University in New Jersey, said that it’s irrelevant that the ban has been lifted. “There’s now a perception that the U.S. is a place of instability, and that view will impact visitation to this country,” he said.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com