Tour and travel industry professionals are still trying to calculate the impact on inbound travel to the USA in the wake of two proposed bans on travel to the United States from a half-dozen Muslim majority nations, as well as other measures and rhetoric embraced by the Administration of President Donald Trump that most in the industry deem harmful.
Yet, during last week’s ITB in Berlin, another factor that is damaging the efforts to promote and sell the USA as a destination became just as apparent—the strong U.S. dollar. Europe’s currency, the euro, is down about 20 percent vs. the U.S. dollar over what it was three years ago. The decline is slightly greater for the UK’s pound sterling. The UK is Europe’s largest country source market for overseas visitors to the United States.
To illustrate the point: “I’m really getting tired of this narrative: Trump certainly accentuated it tenfold, but the “slump” predates his election,” wrote Jonathan Elkoubi, director, tourism, group sales & corporate events at Applebee’s-Apple-Metro, Inc., in a Facebook post while commenting on a March 9 Inbound Report article on the “Trump Slump.” He added, “The most important culprit is a high U.S. dollar, which first impacted the Euro and Canadian dollar in late 2014/early 2015, followed by the British pound six months later. As of last week, all 3 currencies had lost between 25 to 35 percent of their value against the dollar…”
The Ban, Version 2.0: On Jan. 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive that, among other provisions, would have kept refugees from entering the USA for 120 days and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations out for three months. The countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. It did not help the Administration that there was confusion in the ban’s rollout, as well as a turnabout, as it related to green card holders and other provisions.
Within two weeks a U.S. District Court judge and an Appellate Court in San Francisco had overturned the travel ban. Then, on March 6, the Trump Administration came out with a new travel ban executive order that had the following changes:
- It prohibits travelers from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Iraq is no longer on the list.
- Valid visa holders are not affected.
- It removes the indefinite restrictions on Syrian refugees. Instead, the policy halts all refugee admissions to the U.S. for four months.
- It stripped language that would have given preference to religious minorities — such as Christians from the Middle East — once refugee resettlement resumes.
- The new ban was scheduled to become effective in 10 days, March 16—not immediately.
Impact Update—a Quick Tally: Since March 6, several states have filed suit challenging the “2.0” ban. Meanwhile, accounts of the impact of the ban—as well as the response of travelers in some country markets to the Trump Administration—include the following: