Trump travel ban: Flight bookings to US slump by 6.5 percent

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Donald Trump’s travel ban resulted in a worldwide 6.5 per cent drop in the number of airline bookings for travellers headed to the United States.

According to data provided by software apps which track flight searches and bookings on the internet, the number of travellers searching for deals to US destinations declined in the week after Trump’s controversial executive order on January 27.

Hopper, an app which uses data to predict and analyse airfare, says that its research indicates that searches for flights to the US between January 26 and February 1 by internet users from 122 different countries dropped 17 per cent compared to the first three weeks in January.

After the ban was temporarily lifted on February 3, the demand picked up slightly, but overall there were 10 per cent fewer searches for flights to the US as of February 10, the Montreal-based company said.

Hopper even produced a detailed, country-by-country study showing the number of flight searches to the US.

Notably, flight searches to the US by Russian internet users saw a significantly above average increase by 88 percent, according to Hopper.

ForwardKeys, a travel research company based in Spain, says overall flight bookings to the US dropped by 6.5 percent overall since the travel ban was announced.

That figure compares statistics from January 28 to February 4 of both this year and last year.

“There has been a 17 percent drop in searches for US flights. ‘Banned countries’ are the seven nations listed in Trump’s executive order – Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. ‘Skipped’ countries are Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Qatar, UAE, Azerbaijan

Tourists from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia have been less inclined to book a ticket to the US, while there has been a slight increase in tourism from Eastern Europe and Central and South America, according to ForwardKeys.

Perhaps not surprisingly, tourism to the US from the seven countries that were listed in Trump’s travel ban – Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia – dropped 80 percent after the ban was announced.

When it was lifted a week later, there was a surge of bookings, primarily from Iranian travellers to the US. Overall, however, there was a decline.

‘The data forces a compelling conclusion that Donald Trump’s travel ban immediately caused a significant drop in bookings to the USA and an immediate impact on future travel,’ said Olivier Jager, CEO of ForwardKeys.

Travel industry experts say that the ban could end up costing the US economy $3billion. Protesters are seen above denouncing the ban during a demonstration at New York’s Kennedy Airport on January 28, 2017

‘This is not good news for the US economy.’

Another online travel site, Cheapflights.com, says that international searches for flights to the US dropped 38 percent on the weekend of January 27 to 29 compared to the previous weekend.

From February 10 to 14, there were 16 per cent fewer searches for flights to the US compared to the average for all of January.

A Swedish travel search engine, Flygresor.se, said that searches to the US fell by 47 per cent on the weekend after the travel ban was announced compared with the same period a year before.

ForwardKeys, a company specialising in travel research says that total flight bookings to the US dropped 6.5 percent in the week after the travel ban was announced.

Responsible Travel, a British tour operator, says that inquiries for trips to the US fell by 22 per cent, even though the company says that its business is growing compared to the same period last year.

“Prior to the ban, the US was one of our best-selling destinations, but our customers are now choosing to travel to other countries,” said Responsible Travel CEO Justin Francis.

The latest data is reflective of what tourism industry experts refer to as “the Trump Slump,” according to Frommer’s.

If the trend of lower demand continues, it could cost the US tourism industry upward of $3billion, according to Mother Jones.

The statistics point to the travel ban having a negative effect not just on the seven designated countries, but also on visitors from elsewhere.

Travel agent Melissa Erskine, owner of iDream Travel based in Ontario, Canada, says some of her clients ‘are no longer interested in going to the US due to Donald Trump’s policies and have looked at other options within Canada.’

“I just booked flights for two families to New York City for April and they have taken out trip cancellation insurance…They wanted peace of mind that they can cancel their trip if needed.”

Fred Dixon, CEO of NYC & Company, New York’s tourism agency, said Canada is New York’s second-biggest international market after the United Kingdom, “so when our neighbours to the north call for a boycott, it’s a huge cause for concern.”

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