Since Donald Trump won the presidential election, there has been a lot of speculation as to how his policies will affect our country. Earlier this month, I started a series of blog posts on travel trends for 2017. Let’s review how this election could affect travel. Here are just four examples:
- Travel boycotts to the U.S.: There could be boycotts of travelers to not come to the U.S. because of Trump winning the election. In a Travelzoo survey conducted in the U.K. before the election, one in five respondents said they would “definitely” not consider America as a travel destination if Mr. Trump was elected. If those respondents are typical of the nearly four million Brits that visit the U.S. each year, the numbers of visitors could drop by more than one million. This would be unfortunate as our country is truly worth visiting.
- Americans traveling abroad. Americans will continue to travel. Travel Zoo also reports that of their U.S. members surveyed prior to the election, 61 percent stated they will travel just as much as they did in 2017 and 16 percent will travel even more if Donald Trump were elected. They are concerned though of how they will be treated. According to that survey, sixty-nine percent of those polled are worried that the election negatively impacts how U.S. citizens are perceived overseas. One in five consider safety and security a top concern when abroad. When I went to Australia last April, I was bombarded with questions about Mr. Trump and concerns about him being president. I can only imagine what Americans are dealing with now as they travel abroad. But it’s an opportunity for Americans to have thoughtful discussions with people they meet overseas on American politics and culture.
- Trade: Trump wants to renegotiate trade agreements and limit travel of certain foreign nationals to increase homeland security. But as president he will have to work with congress on his policies. Even with a Republican controlled legislative branch, I believe the election rhetoric in a number of areas will be tempered. There is concern that the popular visa waiver program our industry has fought hard to implement and sustain will be weakened. I am hopeful that will not be the case. Trump is pro-business, so as a tourism industry we have to demonstrate how travel to the U.S. is vital to our economy.
- Travel related infrastructure: According to U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow, “Mr. Trump demonstrated throughout his campaign that travel and infrastructure issues have his attention…. Trump has explicitly highlighted the challenges facing our nation’s airports and our aviation security system. He has voiced great enthusiasm for modernizing our roads, rails and airports with his promise to invest $500 billion in infrastructure reform.” Let’s not forget that the president elect is invested in the tourism and hospitality business, being a partner in numerous ventures including hotels, attractions, golf courses and even a winery.
So where does it leave the travel industry with a Trump Presidency? It’s too soon to tell. There could be challenges and there could be opportunities. I strive to be an optimist. Overall, I think travel and tourism will continue to be an economic and job creating engine on the local, national and international stage, regardless of who is president.
And for those international travelers who are thinking of boycotting a visit to the U.S. because of the future president, I close this with these thoughts penned by travel writer Chris Leadbeater this week:
“…the USA is no worse a travel destination today than it was yesterday, or than it will be in November 2020 or January 2025.
The Grand Canyon is as wide and magnificent as ever, the San Francisco skyline still an architectural wonder, the bars of Brooklyn unwaveringly chic, Route 66 still a meandering road-trip ribbon across the landscape, Colorado still a snowy oasis for skiers.
Travel really does broaden the mind – and the world could use some broadening today.”