Following the decision by the United States supreme court to uphold a travel ban on a number of Muslim-majority countries, Michael McCormick, executive director of the GBTA, explains what impact the move is likely to have on business tourism in the country.
The supreme court has 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 United States economy remains.
In a poll of GBTA members last week, nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) of US 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 per cent expect some level of reduction going forward because of the new ruling to uphold the ban.
More than half (52 per cent) of US travel buyers also reported concerns of increased traveller harassment in general due to this administration’s policies and messaging on travel and immigration, while 40 per cent worry about a reduction in business travel to the United States.
When asked about the lasting impact, US buyers cited the potential for countries to respond, making travel more difficult for US travellers (64 per cent), complications in travel to the United States (56 per cent), increased threats against US travellers abroad (51 per cent) and cancelled projects/contracts between US and foreign companies (36 per cent).
Perhaps most strikingly, 62 per cent of US buyers believe this administration is having a negative impact on business travel.
For every one per cent decrease in business travel spending, the US 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent) 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 US 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 traveller 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 travellers and businesses alike.
Our shared mission is to implement policies going forward that preserve both our national security and our economy for the future.
About the Global Business Travel Association
The Global Business Travel Association is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organisation headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents.
GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually.
GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts.
To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit the official website.