Trump slump: Tourists lose interest in visiting the U.S

Interest in travel to the US has “fallen off a cliff” since Donald Trump’s election, according to travel companies who have reported a significant drop in flight searches and bookings since his inauguration and controversial travel ban.

Data released this week by travel search engine Kayak reported a 58% decline in searches for flights to Tampa and Orlando from the UK, and a 52% decline in searches for Miami. Searches for San Diego were also down 43%, Las Vegas by 36% and Los Angeles 32%.

Though flight prices are holding firm (they usually take weeks rather than days to adjust to consumer trends), Kayak has identified a knock-on effect on average hotel prices. It found prices in Las Vegas are down by 39% and New York City by 32%.

It is the latest in a string of reports from the travel industry that suggests a “Trump slump”, with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) estimating that since being elected President Trump has cost the US travel industry $185m in lost revenue.

Flight app Hopper released research earlier this month month that showed flight search from international origins to the US has dropped 17% since Trump’s inauguration, compared with the final weeks of the Obama administration. It found a similar pattern to Kayak, with San Francisco and Las Vegas seeing the largest declines in search interest.

Hopper found there has been a sharp drop in flight searches to the US since Trump’s travel ban, with a 30% decrease in predominantly Muslim countries regardless of whether they were included in the ban. In Saudi Arabia flight searches dropped by 33% and in Bahrain by 37%, even though neither were included in Trump’s executive order.

Though flight demand to the US dropped in 94 of 122 countries, Hopper found a notable exception in Russia, where flight search demand to the US was up by 88%.

Hopper said it believes the change does not represent a seasonal effect: last year there was only a 1.8% decline over a comparable time period.

Analyst Forward Keys has also released a report on air travel to the US following the Trump travel ban. It found that in the week following the ban, bookings from the affected countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – fell by 80% compared with the same period last year.

Net bookings to the US are down by 6.5% (excluding China), according to Forward Keys. The analyst says that the Trump travel ban “is putting off people travelling to the US from many regions of the world, beyond the Middle East”.

The good news for travellers seeking alternative destinations to the US is that many long-haul and European destinations are now cheaper to get to. Kayak found that flight prices have dropped significantly to Mexico (down by 39% to an average of £444), Rio (down by 23%), New Zealand (22%) and Singapore (20%). The average cost of flights to European destinations this summer has also fallen compared with 2016, including Pula in Croatia (down 42%), Ibiza (down 32%) and Faro, Portugal (down 20%).

Source: The Guardian

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