Following President Donald Trump’s executive order on Jan. 27 temporarily banning the entry of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the demand for travel to the United States took a nose-dive.
The effect was immediate: Following President Donald Trump’s executive order on Jan. 27 temporarily banning the entry of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the demand for travel to the United States took a nose-dive, according to data from several travel companies and research firms.
One month later, with the ban lifted at least for the moment, demand has bounced back slightly but is still down.
Following the imposition of the travel ban, the airfare prediction app Hopper analyzed 303 million flight searches executed from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 and found that demand from 122 countries for flights to the United States dropped 17 percent after the ban compared with the first three weeks in January.
Demand was still down by more than 10 percent as of Feb. 22, compared with the same period, Hopper’s chief data scientist, Patrick Surry, said.
Most Read Life Stories
- 'It's ridiculous' — with Washington's grocery-store workers now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, 5 Seattle chefs say restaurant workers should be too
- Willows Inn on Lummi Island to pay $600K to settle class-action lawsuit over wage theft
- 15 things to do this weekend in the Seattle area
- From closing a restaurant forever to ‘Top Chef’ — an extraordinary pandemic year in the life of Seattle’s Shota Nakajima
- This neighborhood butcher shop in Mountlake Terrace is a hot-sauce and meat-lovers paradise
The online travel site Cheapflights.com also saw international searches for flights to the United States drop after the ban. Searches were down 38 percent from Jan. 27 to 29 compared with the previous weekend, and down 15 percent from Feb. 16 to 21, compared with the average volume in January, said Emily Fisher, a spokeswoman for the company.
“This drop in searches was most notable in the days right after the ban was enacted,” she said, “but at least for now, there are signs of a turnaround.”
In addition, the Swedish travel search engine Flygresor.se analyzed 2.5 million flight searches on its website and app the weekend following the announcement of the temporary ban, and found that searches for the U.S. had declined by 47 percent, compared with the same period the year before. As of Feb. 26, flight searches were still down by 21 percent.
Bookings to the United States also declined following the ban, according to ForwardKeys, a travel research company in Valencia, Spain. The company looked at 16 million flight reservations per day between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 and found that international bookings to the United States were down 6.5 percent compared with the same period last year.
Some travel companies, too, saw a dip in requests and bookings for U.S. trips.
Responsible Travel, a tour operator based in Brighton, England, said it saw a 22 percent drop in inquiries about trips to the United States. In contrast, the company’s overall business is up 30 percent this year, compared with the year to date in 2016, its chief executive, Justin Francis, said.
“Prior to the ban, the U.S. was one of our best-selling destinations, but our customers are now choosing to travel to other countries,” Francis said.
From Jan. 27 to Feb. 16, the tour operator Intrepid Travel saw a 21 percent decrease in sales for trips to the United States by travelers in Australia, and a 30 percent decrease by those in Britain. This is a stark contrast to early January, when the company saw record booking numbers from travelers in these countries, Intrepid’s North American director, Leigh Barnes, said.
Weaker short-term demand aside, travel analysts say the ban also has the potential to damage the country’s lucrative tourism industry in coming years. Statistics provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, show that tourism-related output in the United States was $1.56 trillion in 2015; tourism created 7.6 million jobs in the United States the same year.
According to Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, part of Oxford Economics, a research firm, Trump’s executive order is part of a broader policy platform with “America first” rhetoric that is creating international antipathy toward the United States and is already affecting traveler behavior.
In February, his group conducted a study of travel to Los Angeles County and found that it could suffer a potential three-year loss of 800,000 international visitors as a direct result of the ban, which would come to $736 million in tourism spending.
“It doesn’t take a lot of uncertainty or adverse sentiment to affect travel decisions,” Sacks said.
The Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “The Salesman” won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film, boycotted the ceremony because of the travel ban. Travel analysts say that similar boycotts could happen on a larger scale.
Rummy Pandit, the executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University in New Jersey, said it was irrelevant that the ban had been lifted. “There’s now a perception that the U.S. is a place of instability,” he said, “and that view will impact visitation to this country.”
Beyond hurting the travel industry, the ban could have negative implications for the overall U.S. economy, said Gregory Daco, an economist with Oxford Economics.