Travel bans, stringent laptop regulations and other
political turmoil will cost the U.S. more than $1.3 billion in travel-related
revenue this year, according to the Global Business Travel Association.
GBTA based that estimate on Airlines Reporting Corp.
first-quarter ticketing data and its own economic research, executive director
Mike McCormick said. It includes $250 million in spending from business
travelers from the Middle East and Europe, and it could translate to an even
bigger impact should companies shift more meetings and events away from the U.S.
to countries with more favorable travel policies, he said. "It is not
unprecedented for the negative perception around government policy to result in
real economic losses," according to McCormick. "Before the
'bathroom bill' in North Carolina was repealed, an [Associated Press]
analysis projected the law would cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost
business over a dozen years."
Those losses translate into 4,200 lost jobs and a $300 million
hit to U.S. GDP, he added. Europe, meanwhile, stands to lose more than $250
million in airfare and the Middle East more than $80 million, according to the
analysis. "This devastating economic impact could take years to recover
from," McCormick said.
As President Donald Trump's administration continues to
fight for his so-called travel
ban in court, the travel industry also awaits an expected announcement
regarding the expansion of a ban on certain electronics aboard inbound
international flights to the U.S. Already in effect for flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa,
reports indicate the Department of Homeland Security is considering expanding
it to flights from Europe or perhaps even globally. This week, DHS Deputy
Secretary Elaine Duke met in Brussels with European Commission Transport
Commissioner Violeta Bulc and with Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship
Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos to discuss the bans. The two administrations
will meet in Washington, D.C., next week to continue that discussion, according
to a joint statement by DHS and the European Commission.
GBTA and other business travel trade organizations have
warned that an expanded electronics ban would be devastating for corporate
German business travel organization VDR director general
Hans-Ingo Biehl said had such a ban been in effect last year, it would have
cost German business travelers $162 million in lost productivity, based on an
estimated 720,000 business trips to the U.S. in 2016.
"Economies around the world, including the U.S., are
set up to lose—big time," Association of Corporate Travel Executives
executive director Greeley Koch said in a message to members on Thursday.
"The ban will severely hamper travel to the U.S. and elsewhere, and it
hits us where it hurts the most: lost productivity for businesses and major
disruptions to the airline, hotel and ground transportation industries."
All of that could combine further to drive business travel
away from the U.S., McCormick said. "While … there is no doubt that the
electronics ban is based on a clear security threat, it is the cumulative
impact of anti-travel policies that leave the perception to many that the
United States is closed for business," he said. "It goes without
saying that GBTA strongly supports all efforts to keep our skies safe, but we
encourage [the Transportation Security Administration] to pursue alternative
options to effectively reduce the risk of terrorism."
—Additional reporting by