Every election season brings about two certainties: a divided nation, and, well, uncertainty. Unfortunately for us, this year’s election was able to highlight the absolute extremes in both of these areas.
It is a normality that directly following a U.S. Presidential election, the domestic and global markets begin to fluctuate, usually bringing spending to a halt as we wait to see the country’s next big move. Eventually, this hold begins to loosen and the economy begins to move freely again, though there may be one sector which does not break out of Trump’s grasp – the travel industry.
What will the Trump administration mean for American Travel and Tourism? Of course, your guess is as good as any, but we must take into consideration and, for the sake of this piece, assume that Trump is going to keep his campaign promises.
Many of these guarantees would create obstacles for the travel industry, especially if he were to actually implement his ban on Muslims entering the United States (which just so happens to be on his 100-day plan/Contract with the American Voter).
From a numbers perspective alone, this could largely affect the travel industry, as it would not only turn-off but turn-away and dampen all enthusiasm, for 1.6 billion people who could otherwise visit the country.
Of these 1.6 billion people, nearly one-third of our world’s population, are some who tend to be the biggest spenders; lavishing 50% extra per trip as compared to traveling Europeans. A calculation by Travel + Leisure suggests that the contribution from Muslims who traveled in 2013 was $6.8 billion (…or about 1/3 of the United States’ debt, for reference…).
The Economist reports that the actual hit to tourism would be far higher, however, as the majority of the world’s Muslims live outside of the Middle East. This, of course, is before we consider the damaged reputation suffered to America in non-Muslim nations. A widely reported survey conducted before the election found that over 1 million Britons would boycott America in the event of a Trump presidency. Of course, this poll is not statistically sound, but it absolutely hints at a general loss of prestige in the eyes of the world, which could affect visitor numbers at the margin.
To be a fair and honest reporter, though, I must present both sides of this argument for you. Sure, the repercussions of Trump’s promises may cripple his tourist industry, shunning 1/3 of the world’s population from wanting to come and visit the country, but the agreed upon bright spot of his campaign spoke heavily on infrastructure, and more importantly, its rebuilding.
Trump compared U.S. airports to those that “are like from a third-world country,” hinting at possibly rebuilding and adding on to many of these during his rebuilding plans.
Airlines would also like him to go further than this, as major companies have already contacted and met with Trump about privatizing the country’s air-traffic-control service and adopting newer technologies to help make the system work more smoothly.
All in all, however, American travel will be based on the state of the country’s economy. Economic growth and foreign investment might as well share the same line on the graph as they are so closely linked to one another, and this is what throws a red flag atop the Trump administration.
For better or for worse, trying to use nationalism/damn-near isolationism to the country’s advantage is a risky move. It is going to shift the paradigm of what the country is used to, and leave a lot of skeptics.
As the cloud of uncertainty continues to loom over the country, there is no telling when the sun might peak through.
Buckle up folks, we may be in for a bumpy ride.