by Michael J. Shapiro | June 27, 2018
Travel industry associations expressed strong concerns yesterday in reaction to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Trump administration's travel ban pertaining to visitors from select, mostly Muslim-majority countries. "It cannot be denied that the cumulative impact of the travel bans over the past 18 months has been felt by our industry," wrote Global Business Travel Association executive director and COO Michael McCormick. "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."
 
While the impact was less following the second and third versions of the ban, wrote McCormick, effects still remain. In a GBTA poll of its members last week, 23 percent of U.S. travel buyers said the executive orders have driven at least some level of reduction in their company's travel. What's more, 37 percent expect some level of travel reduction because of yesterday's ruling.
 
Travel buyers are fretting over the quality of travel, too. More than half (52 percent) reported concerns about increased traveler harassment due to the administration's policies and rhetoric about travel and immigration; four out of 10 buyers are worried about a reduction in business travel to the U.S. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of buyers fear travel could become more difficult for U.S. travelers, too, and more than half (51 percent) worry U.S. travelers will face more threats abroad. Finally, more than a third (36 percent) are concerned there will be cancelled projects or contracts between the U.S. and foreign companies. More than six out of 10 (62 percent) of travel buyers believe the administration is having a negative impact on business travel. 
 
The attitudes of GBTA's European members are likewise disconcerting, added McCormick. Nearly one-third (31 percent) said the U.S. administration's executive orders have resulted in at least some reduction in their company's travel. Group business could suffer as well, with 38 percent indicating their willingness to plan meetings and events in the U.S. has decreased as a result of the orders, and 39 percent saying the administration's policies and rhetoric about travel and immigration have negatively affected their company's willingness to plan meetings and events stateside.
 
"GBTA is deeply concerned about the long-term impact of these survey results," wrote McCormick, "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."
 
According to the GBTA, for every 1 percent decrease in business travel spending, the U.S. economy loses 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes. 
 
Greeley Koch, executive director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives Global, expressed similar concerns about the lasting economic effects of the travel ban. "This is a disappointing decision on the part of the Supreme Court," he said, "and a setback for the principles underlying the global economy. ACTE is concerned by the implications for a healthy business environment that relies on the critical economic inputs and outputs from both workers and tourists coming into the U.S. from all corners of the globe. This move fails to reduce the uncertainty that has, over the past year and a half, hindered business travellers' productivity and efficiency.
 
"ACTE believes in treating all travelers with fairness and respect for their contributions to the economy, regardless of country of origin," Koch continued. "We hope that, despite this decision, the U.S. government will take the time to carefully evaluate immigration and security policies to ensure that the economy continues to thrive without sacrificing safety."
 
GBTA's McCormick also called for a logical approach to security. "We can work to ensure safe and secure travel through other proven security measures," he noted, "including continued expansion of the Visa Waiver Program, the implementation of additional trusted-traveler reciprocal agreements with countries where possible and encouraging relevant agencies to find more areas of cooperation to pool resources and intelligence.
 
"Our shared mission is to implement policies going forward that preserve both our national security and our economy for the future," McCormick concluded.