Travel Trump-ed?

I'm not a political aficionado.

I don’t pretend to understand NAFTA agreements or NATO obligations, but I know I’ve had a real knee-jerk reaction to the idea of travelling to the U.S. under its current administration. 

I’m not the only one.

The Trump campaign was advanced on a rhetoric of intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia and isolationism. 

For the travel industry to flourish, there must be a willingness to grow and expand horizons. Travel is what results from an inter-connected globalization of trade and culture. 

Talk of building walls and restricting personal freedoms based on race or religion is not “tourist friendly” chat.

A recent article in the online U.K. newspaper The Independent examined the British outlook on travel to the U.S. in 2017.

“A leading travel industry figure has warned that many prospective British visitors to the U.S. may decide not to go as a result of Donald Trump’s election.

"Joel Brandon-Bravo, U.K. managing director for Travelzoo, said: 'Following confirmation of a win for Donald Trump in the presidential election today, we’re now forecasting an unstable 2017 for U.S. tourism, with over one million U.K. travellers set to reconsider the country as a holiday destination.'”

The U.K. generally accounts for over 3.5 million tourists visits a year to the U.S., so we are talking about a 30 per cent drop in tourism dollars.

What about Canadian travellers?  It seems that searches for flights from Canada to the U.S. on popular sites such as Cheapflights and Expedia are down over 15 per cent since the election results. 

It would be easy to assume that the drop was due to our weak dollar, however, in May when our exchange was at its lowest, Canadians were searching for flights to the U.S. more than all of Europe combined.

The overall sentiment is that this decline is not due to Trump, but more in fact to the negative impact the ugly election statements have made. 

Henry Harteveldt, Atmosphere Research Group, says:

“We’ve seen some really unpleasant behaviour in the days since the election – there have been swastikas painted on buildings, and hateful things spray-painted on the buildings or said on college campuses and on the streets.

“For a foreign visitor who sees this, especially if that person is a member of one of those [targeted] groups, they’re going to say, ‘I’d love to go, but I don’t feel safe now.’ It’s not that they won’t come here because of Trump himself. They won’t come here because there’s an attitude that tolerates that kind of hateful discussion.”

Ironically, Mexico was expected to overtake Canada by the end of 2016 to be the largest source of tourism demand to the U.S.

Combine the “Mexican Wall” rhetoric with a promised travel ban against Muslim tourists and the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations estimates it could cost the country up to $71 billion per year and 132,000 jobs. 

Hmmm, so much for that economic stimulus.

The good news of course is that Canada now becomes the default destination of choice. 

You see? It pays to be nice.


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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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