While conclusive hard data which might illustrate Donald Trump’s impact on travel to the USA are still difficult to come by, there is more evidence that, one year after his Nov. 8, 2016 election as U.S. president, his policies and his rhetoric have turned off overseas travelers in some key markets (the UK in particular) while anecdotal evidence suggests that it is having little effect in other markets, such as Germany. The latest developments:
The recent World Travel Market was the setting for the release of survey results showing that UK travel executives said that 40 percent of them do not think that the U.S. is a good place to business with for as long as Trump is president. The figure was one of the findings in the World Travel Market London 2017 Industry Report.
In the survey, when presented with the statement “With Donald Trump as president, America is a country to do business with,”
- 19 percent said that they strongly disagreed;
- 21 percent disagreed slightly;
- Just 15 percent of respondents agreed with the statement and
- 44 percent neither agreed or disagreed.
The report also revealed that:
- 16 percent of travel industry executives said the Trump election has had the biggest impact on their organization in the past year; and
- 16 percent are adapting their marketing strategy as a result of the U.S. presidential election.
Meanwhile, another survey of 1,000 British holidaymakers found that
- 27 percent said they were less likely to visit the US in the future because of Trump’s presidency.
- At the same time, 67 percent said say it made no difference to their decision.
- 6 percent of holidaymakers said they would be more likely to visit the U.S. now Trump is in power.
Addressing the results of the two surveys, WTM London’s Paul Nelson said: “Since the announcement a year ago, on the last day of WTM London 2016, that Donald Trump had been voted in as the next US president, there has been concern and speculation about what effect a Trump presidency would have on tourism.”
He added, “Many of his policies, tweets and executive orders have proved controversial and have impacted on travel and tourism and there is now clear evidence that some people are being put off visiting the U.S. and some of travel’s top executives are concerned about the Trump effect on their businesses.”
German operators differ on impact: According to the German travel trade publication FVW, “Germans are continuing to go on holiday to the USA this year, countering fears they would stay away due to President Donald Trump’s controversial comments and policies.” Citing a report from the German Press Agency (DPA), FVW highlighted comments from some key German tour operators that suggested there is no cause for alarm over the impact of Trump.
—A spokeswoman for TUI , the largest tour operator in Germany (and in Europe) said the company saw a “fulminant” start to the 2017 summer season which then weakened during the year. Yet, U.S. bookings remain higher than last year overall. “Looking at our figures we cannot see any ‘Trump effect’. We had a strong USA year,” she said, adding that it was too early to make any forecasts for 2018.
—Jörn Kraußer, head of long-haul holidays for DER Touristik, which claims to be the country’s leader in long-haul travel, said his company is seeing good demand for USA holidays in winter 2017/18, noting, “We have a single-digit increase for our brands Dertour and Meier’s Weltreisen. Summer 2018 is also well booked. So we cannot observe any influence of Donald Trump’s presidency on booking decisions … Customers are interested above all in what they get for their travel budget. The holiday price and the exchange rate play a much bigger role than politics or the behavior of the president.”
—Fabio Negro, North American product manager for FTI, indicated that the company is very satisfied with the summer 2017 season and currently has a double-digit rise in bookings for next summer, commenting, “We cannot see any slump in demand for USA trips and therefore no great Trump effect.”
—Tilo Krause-Dünow, owner of the North American holiday specialist, Canusa Touristik, put it this way: “With our efforts to promote the USA emotionally positively, we are unfortunately left standing without the help of the White House.” Krause-Dünow said that he heard doubts from customers at the start of this year but this changed over the last few months, observing, “In our experience, Germans still want to go to New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, Miami and the National Parks, and experience the beaches and a lot more.” At the same time, he added, Canada had much higher double-digit growth in visitor numbers this year, suggesting, “That will continue for Canada in 2018 while we expect USA demand at the level of 2017.”
—Timo Kohlenberg, president and CEO of America Unlimited, was direct in his opinion. “Yes, the Trump Effect could be felt,” he said. His company’s U.S. business dropped by 5-10 percent at different phases this year, while Canada had profited. However, U.S. booking picked up again recently, suggesting that, in fact, there might even be a positive Trump effect now. “The initial euphoria and belief in Trump’s political aims have disappeared into thin air and the euro has strengthened well against the dollar,” he observed. And, as a consequence, U.S. trips are cheaper again.