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Uncertainty over Trump travel ban ‘hurting’ business - GBTA

The continued uncertainty around president Trump’s travel ban is “hurting” the business travel sector, according to the GBTA.

On Thursday, a US federal appeals court rejected Trump’s attempt to reinstate his ban in citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said it would not block a ruling by a Seattle court that halted the order.

The GBTA said either scenario relating to the ban results in a loss for the travel industry and the economy.

Last week GBTA polled both its U.S. and European members to assess the impact of the ban. In Europe, nearly half of travel professionals reported expectations for their company to reduce business travel over the next three months and 31 percent of U.S. respondents agreed.

Based on the most recent industry data available (February 8), the following is the estimated impact:

  • USA system-wide business travel transaction levels month-over-month  (January 2017 vs. December 2016) decreased by up to 8 percent depending on industry and sector
  • USA system-wide business travel transaction levels were increasing by +1.2 per cent the week before the travel ban but decreased by -2.2 per cent the week after the travel ban for a net negative industry impact of -3.4 percent in one week
  • In that week, approximately $185 million in business travel bookings were lost as the uncertainty surrounding travel in general had a rippling effect on traveler confidence
  • In 2016, 87.3 per cent of USA business travel was domestic travel, 12.7 per cent was international travel. This action had a significant disproportionate impact on international travel
  • For every 1 per cent impact on business travel spending annually, the United States gains or loses 71,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in GDP, $3 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in tax collections   

Writing in a blog post, GBTA COO, Mike McCormick, said upholding the band will cause a “rippling affect” through the industry, ultimately hurting the economy.

“While the White House’s stated goal was acting in the interest of national security, it did not give the civil servants responsible for implementing the ban any chance to do so effectively,” said McCormick. “There was too much uncertainty and a lack of clarity around the executive order, leading to general confusion. The net effect was that business travel bookings were delayed or cancelled.

"There is no question that security is of the utmost importance. However, instead of closing our borders, the United States should continue to pursue and focus on expanding security programs like the Visa Waiver Program, which facilitates information-sharing among governments to ensure properly vetted travelers, making us all more safe and secure.

"Upholding the lower court’s ruling is also a losing situation for the business travel industry. The initial impact has already been felt and the uncertainty it will create as we await an appeal to the Supreme Court will continue to make its mark. Advanced bookings will likely slow as travel professionals cannot be sure if and when the ban will be reinstated. Meetings and events may be cancelled altogether,” said McCormick.

He added this “cloud of uncertainity” could leave a lasting economic impact. “Large corporations and small businesses alike will suffer. The biggest driver of our economic recovery of the past seven years from the most recent downturn was international outbound travel. U.S. businesses found top line growth and business opportunity from new markets all over the world.”

The GBTA is urging the Trump administration to pause the ban and reassess its path forward with key stakeholders.

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