USA. Travel to the USA has suffered a -6.5% “Trump slump” in the wake of the President’s controversial entrance ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Travel intelligence analyst ForwardKeys assessed international trends in bookings to the US between 28 January and 4 February (the travel ban was imposed on 27 January), comparing the data to the year-before period. The analysis excludes China and Hong Kong because of the seasonal effect due to the timing of Chinese New Year, ForwardKeys said.
Net bookings from the seven affected countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – were unsurprisingly down -80% on the same eight-day period last year.
ForwardKeys said the overall results suggested “the turmoil over [Trump’s] ruling is putting people off travelling to the US from many regions of the world, beyond the Middle East”.
Bookings from Northern Europe, Western Europe and Southern Europe were down -6.6%, -13.6% and -2.9% respectively. Travel from the Middle East was down -37.5% and from Asia Pacific -14%.
“If one analyses total outbound bookings from each of those regions to provide a benchmark, in every case, the USA has lost market share as total outbound travel from Northern Europe was flat, from Western Europe was down -1%, from Southern Europe was up +3.1%, from the Middle East was down -13% and from Asia Pacific was down -8.9%,” ForwardKeys said.
Against this trend, bookings from Central and Eastern Europe and the Americas were up +15.8% and +2.3% respectively. “However, when one looks again at outbound travel from those two regions of the world, total travel was up substantially [+12% from Central and Eastern Europe and +4.8% from the Americas] so the increases in travel to the USA look less impressive in this context,” the analyst reported.
“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 ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager. “As inbound travel is an export industry (it earns foreign currency), this is not good news for the US economy. However, one must bear in mind that this is just an eight-day snapshot from when the ban was put in place and we will continue to monitor what happens as the political situation develops.”
Bookings to the USA from the Middle East were already down -8.8% during the last year. From 28 January to 4 February they fell -38%.
ForwardKeys, which analyses 16 million flight reservation transactions a day, noted that while travel bookings on any given day can be “significantly up or down” compared to the same day a year before, variability over a few consecutive days is “typically much less”. The eight-day period coinciding with the travel ban is the first time since before the presidential election in early November that there has been a consistently long run of negative variations compared with the equivalent period the year before, it said. For reference, inbound bookings to the USA for the past year were down -0.4%.
After Federal Judge James Robart placed a temporary block on Donald Trump’s travel ban, bookings to the USA from Iran on 3-4 February saw a dramatic surge, five times higher than the same two days last year. Most were for arrival on 5-6 February and with lengths of stay of 22 nights or more and, according to ForwardKeys data, Iran was the only country to see such a surge following the suspension of the ban.
It should be noted that ForwardKeys monitors the true origin of trips, not the nationality of travellers. Therefore, figures for travel from places like Iran may include expats living there and returning home. Also, there are nationals of the seven banned countries living elsewhere who were prevented from travelling to the USA, the company said.
The seven banned countries are behind -15% in terms of bookings for future US arrivals over the next three months compared to last year. On 27 January they were -10% behind. “This illustrates how the travel ban worsened an already negative trend,” ForwardKeys said.
Total international bookings for US arrivals for the coming three months are currently +2.3% ahead of last year – but were running +3.4% ahead just eight days before the ban.