Travel to US hit by Trump slump


As American president Trump seeks to reinstate his executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, Forwardkeys releases findings that the initial ban has deterred travel from other countries as well.

In the period of January 28 and February 4 after the executive order was signed, net bookings issued from the seven countries directly affected by the ban (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) were down 80 per cent on the same period last year.

Notably, when looking at wider international trends in bookings to the US, Forwardkeys discovered a 6.5 per cent negative variation compared with the equivalent period the year before, suggesting the turmoil over his ruling is putting those from outside the Middle East off travelling to the US.

This analysis excludes China and Hong Kong because of the seasonal effect from Chinese New Year.

Bookings from Northern Europe (-6.6 per cent), Western Europe (-13.6 per cent), Southern Europe (-2.9 per cent), the Middle East (-37.5 per cent) and Asia-Pacific (-14 per cent) were all down. Even after benchmarking against total outbound traffic from these region, the US still lost market share in all cases.

Demand for the US from Central/Eastern Europe and the Americas were up 15.8 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively. However, when one looks at outbound travel from those two regions of the world, total travel was up 12 per cent from Central/Eastern Europe and 4.8 per cent from the Americas, making the increase in travel to the US less impressive.

On February 3 and 4, after federal judge James Robart placed a temporary block on the travel ban, bookings to the US from Iran saw a dramatic surge, five times higher than same two days last year. Most were for arrivals on February 5 and 6 and with lengths of stay of 22 nights or more.

Iran was the only country to see such a surge following the suspension of the ban, with ForwardKeys acknowledging that those entering the US could include US citizens/residents returning home from Iran. The study monitors trip origin rather than nationality of travellers.

Looking at forward bookings over the next three months, the seven banned countries are behind 15 per cent on last year, compared with a 10 per cent decrease observed on January 27, suggesting a worsening of a negative trend resulting from the travel ban.

Total international bookings for the US for the coming three months are currently 2.3 per cent ahead of last year. Just eight days before, they were running 3.4 per cent ahead.

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