Approximately US$185 million in business travel bookings were lost in the week following President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the US from seven countries, according to a survey the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) conducted of its US and European members.
The drop was due to uncertainty surrounding travel following the ban, with GBTA noting that business travel transaction levels dropped 2.2 per cent the week after the ban took effect. This was compared to a 1.2 per cent increase the week prior, resulting in a net negative industry impact of -3.4 per cent in one week.
Close to half of travel professionals in Europe consulted in the poll reported that they expected their company to reduce business travel over the next three months, while 31 per cent of US respondents said the same.
“We say it time and again. Business travel drives lasting business growth and is a leading indicator for jobs and the economy at large,” said Michael McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO in a February 9 post on the GBTA blog. “Upholding the travel ban will clearly cause a rippling effect through the travel industry, ultimately hurting the economy.”
McCormick added that the recent lower court ruling temporarily suspending the ban would also further exacerbate the impact as travel professionals remain uncertain of the ban’s future implementation ahead of its likely appeal to the Supreme Court.
“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.”
According to GBTA, the US gains or loses 71,000 jobs, close to US$5 billion in GDP, US$3 billion in wages and US$1.2 billion in taxes for every 1 per cent impact on business travel spending annually.
In a separate report published this month, travel industry intelligence firm Forwardkeys noted that air travel in general from Asia-Pacific to the US dropped 14 per cent in the week after the ban compared with a similar time period in 2016 – the second-highest decline after the Middle East, which saw a 37.5 per cent dive. China and Hong Kong, however, were omitted from the analysis due to the seasonal effect of the Chinese New Year break.