by Michael J. Shapiro | February 10, 2017
Approximately $185 million in business travel bookings were lost in the week following President Trump's executive order that temporarily banned travel to the U.S. from some countries, according to the Global Business Travel Association. The number is based on industry data available as of Feb. 8. Business travel transaction levels were increasing by 1.2 percent the week prior to the travel ban but dropped by 2.2 percent the week after the ban, for a net negative impact of -3.4 percent in one week.
 
In a GBTA survey of its members last week, nearly half of travel professionals in Europe expected their companies to reduce business travel over the next three months, while nearly one-third (31 percent) of U.S. respondents expected the same.
 
"We say it time and again," wrote GBTA executive director and COO Michael McCormick in a blog post, "Business travel drives lasting business growth and is a leading indicator for jobs and the economy at large." According to GBTA research and statistics, for every 1 percent impact on business travel spending annually, the U.S. gains or loses 71,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in gross domestic product, $3 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in tax collections.
 
"There is no question that security is of the utmost importance," McCormick wrote. "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."
 
The fact that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday not to reinstate the ban is a reason for some optimism, according to McCormick, but damage to the economy is likely to linger. "GBTA is pleased that the travel ban remains on hold," said McCormick after the decision. "However, the uncertainty driven by the ongoing appeals process will continue to impact business travel and the economy." 
 
The economic impact of the executive order has been a significant preoccupation for the U.S. Travel Association as well. "Over the past two weeks, our members have voiced their concerns about how an unintended consequence of this executive order could be a reduction in both international leisure and business travel to the United States," said president and CEO Roger Dow. "Destinations large and small depend on these visitors to sustain local businesses and jobs." 
 
GBTA's McCormick added that advance bookings will likely remain slow, and that meetings and events could be canceled altogether.
 

"The biggest driver of our economic recovery of the past seven years from the most recent downturn was international outbound travel," noted McCormick. "U.S. businesses found top-line growth and business opportunity from new markets all over the world. We urge the Trump administration to pause this travel-ban action, reassess its path forward with key stakeholders, and preserve both our national security and our economy for the future."

U.S. Travel's Dow underscored the travel industry's commitment to security. "We stand with the administration, Congress and law-enforcement officials, as we all remain vigilant during an era of constantly changing global security dynamics," said Dow. "As always, we believe in striking a balance that places a premium on both security and our nation's history as a welcoming place for travelers from around the globe." 

Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg, a federal judge in Virginia plans to rule as soon as possible on a case there that also aims to block president's travel ban. The state of Virginia is asking U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema for a preliminary injunction blocking the ban throughout the U.S. while she considers a more permanent ruling. The news site said a brief by lawyers for Virginia called the order "a monumental abuse of executive power" that harms the state's economy and public universities by barring foreign students, professors, workers and their family members. In a counter action, President Trump said today that new security measures to keep America safe will be unveiled next week, and that his administration will continue to pursue efforts to lift the freeze on the ban.