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US travel ban could have 'lasting impact' on industry

GBTA rallies Trump to drop attempts to reinstate policy, finding it resulted in £148m in lost bookings

Pictured: GBTA is calling on President Trump to stop attempts to reinstate his controversial travel bans

About US$185 million (£148m) in business travel bookings were lost in the week President Trump implemented controversial travel ban policies, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has estimated.

The association also found that half of its European members expect their companies to reduce business travel over the next three months, alongside 31 per cent of its US members.

The association has called for President Trump to halt his attempts to uphold the policy, saying it will "clearly cause a rippling effect" through the travel industry and ultimately hurt the US economy.

GBTA executive director and COO Michael McCormick added: "It also unleashes travel disruption like we saw when the order was first implemented. While the White House’s stated goal was acting in the interest of national security, it did not give the civil servants responsible for implementing the ban any chance to do so effectively. There was too much uncertainty and a lack of clarity around the executive order, leading to general confusion. The net effect was that business travel bookings were delayed or cancelled.

"The cloud of uncertainty could leave a lasting economic impact. Large corporations and small businesses alike will suffer. The biggest driver of our economic recovery of the past seven years from the most recent downturn was international outbound travel. U.S. businesses found top line growth and business opportunity from new markets all over the world."

GBTA found that in the week before the travel ban, business travel transactions were increasing by 1.2 per cent, yet fell -2.2 per cent immediately after, resulting in a net impact of -3.4 per cent in one week. The lost £148m in bookings was due to uncertainty surrounding travel, which had a 'ripple effect' on traveller confidence, it added.

In 2016, 13 per cent of US business travel was international while 87 per cent was domestic.

McCormick said the country would be better off focusing on bolstering its security programmes.

"There is no question that security is of the utmost importance. However, instead of closing our borders, the United States should continue to pursue and focus on expanding security programs like the Visa Waiver Program, which facilitates information-sharing among governments to ensure properly vetted travellers, making us all more safe and secure," he said.

"We urge 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."

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