Even though President Donald Trump’s order banning travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations was temporarily blocked again this week by a federal appeals court, an influential travel organization says international corporate travel will continue to suffer regardless of the outcome of the ongoing court battle.
The Global Business Travel Association this week released industry data gathered after the ban was introduced. It said that in the week after the ban’s sudden issuance, system-wide business travel transactions in the U.S. declined by 2.2 percent from the previous week, after showing a growth rate of 1.2 percent in the week before the ban.
In that single week after the ban, some $185 million in business travel bookings were lost “as the uncertainty surrounding travel in general had a rippling effect on traveler confidence,” GBTA said.
The organization noted that the President’s order “had a significant disproportionate effect on international travel,” which accounts for 12.7 percent of U.S. business travel.
As long as the ban continues to be litigated, business travel will continue to suffer, GBTA said. On Friday, President Trump suggested that he has other plans or options in the works to protect the US from terrorism, but it remains to be seen how these moves might affect travel.
If the courts uphold the ban and reinstates it, that “will clearly cause a rippling effect through the travel industry, ultimately hurting the economy,” GBTA said. “It also unleashes travel disruption like we saw when the order was first implemented,” resulting in the delay or cancellation of many business trips.
But the appellate court’s decision to keep blocking the ban pending trial or further appeal is also “a losing situation for the business travel industry,” GBTA said, because “the uncertainty it will create as we await an appeal to the Supreme Court will continue to make its mark. Advanced bookings will likely slow as travel professionals cannot be sure if and when the ban will be reinstated. Meetings and events may be cancelled altogether.”
As long as a “cloud of uncertainty” hangs over the ultimate outcome of the fight, GBTA said, “large corporations and small businesses alike will suffer.” It said international outbound business travel has been “the biggest driver of our economic recovery of the past seven years.”
GBTA called on the Trump Administration “to pause this travel ban action, reassess its path forward with key stakeholders, and preserve both our national security and our economy for the future.”