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GBTA sounds the alarm over U.S. travel ban uncertainty

ALEXANDRIA, VA — About US$185 million in U.S. business travel bookings were lost in the week following the U.S. travel ban, as the uncertainty surrounding travel in general had a ripple effect on traveller confidence, according to the Global Business Travel Association.

Uncertainty over the travel ban is putting business travel and the economy at risk, says GBTA Executive Director and COO
 Michael W. McCormick. “Closing our borders sends a message to the world that the United States is closed for business,” he said.

He notes that the Trump administration has announced they are working on a new executive order that is expected to be released soon. It’s unclear if President Trump will rescind the original order, which is currently on hold after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s injunction.

Every quarter GBTA releases a U.S. business travel forecast providing projections for the next two years for prospects for domestic and international outbound business travel for the U.S. “In our last forecast released in October, we noted that ongoing global uncertainty and added heartburn from a presidential election unlike any we had ever seen were causing many businesses to stay in a holding pattern, taking an extremely cautious wait-and-see approach and begging the question of whether many of these companies would be ready when growth picked up.

The current state of uncertainty over the travel ban could cause a similar impact on business travel,” says McCormick.

Cancelled business trips are typically not rescheduled, so every business trip cancelled results in permanently lost travel industry revenues, decreased future employment rates and lost economic benefit to our country, he adds.

The GBTA’s Q4 2016 outlook, completed after the election but before President Trump took office, projected a 4.4% increase in business travel spending in 2017 totaling $296.1 billion, following a 0.2% drop in 2016. This increase “is now very much in jeopardy,” says McCormick.

In the short term, GBTA is urging President Trump and his Administration to make clear their intentions around restricting travel moving forward. “Uncertainty is bad for business and bad for the economy,” says McCormick. “As we have said, there is no question that security is of the utmost importance. However, instead of closing our borders, the United States should continue to focus on expanding security programs that facilitate information-sharing among governments to ensure properly vetted travelers, making us all more safe and secure.”

Each inbound international business trip increases U.S. merchandise exports to the visited country by $36,000 per year and each overseas traveller spends approximately $5,000 when they visit, according to GBTA stats. And for every 1% impact on business travel spending annually, the U.S. gains or loses 71,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in GDP, $3 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in tax collections.

Every captain needs a first mate. And at Virgin Voyages, the adults-only cruise line set to debut in 2020, its second-in-command will be none other than travel agents.

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