Skift Take

The fallout over Friday's problematic executive order continues: Companies are afraid that employees won't be able to travel freely and won't be safe while they're on the road.

After spurring protests, drawing international outrage, and creating mass confusion over the weekend, President Donald Trump’s edict temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries is causing some companies to rethink business trips.

According to a survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, 36 percent of respondents said their company would reduce travel “somewhat.” A smaller number — 3 percent — said travel would drop significantly.

“This is fostering uncertainty,” Greeley Koch, the association’s executive director, said in an interview. “That’s the biggest issue for business travelers and companies that send them out on the road.”

The executive order, delivered late Friday, blocked non-U.S. citizen travelers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from coming into the United States. It is the subject of several lawsuits.

Those with visas and green cards were at first included in the ban, though White House aides and security officials later gave conflicting reports on how green card holders would be treated. The latest expectation is that they would likely be allowed in the country after additional screening.

Some travelers were detained at airports after arriving, while others were not allowed to board flights or were removed from planes before taking off overseas. Leaders of tech firms and multinational corporations have lashed out at the Trump administration over the move, and some quickly recalled employees traveling overseas.

Executives with ACTE started the survey after the edict was issued and continued collecting responses through early Monday afternoon; 260 people participated.

Not all survey respondents said they were having trouble due to the executive order: 46 percent there was no impact, 20 percent said there was, and 34 percent were not yet sure.

Those who were having problems said their concerns included fear of traveler harassment, fear of reprisals against U.S. travelers in the Middle East, uncertainty about green cards, limited access to the employee pool, and a combination of all of those factors.

Over the long term, 22 percent of respondents said they worried that the ban could lead to new or more intense threats against U.S. travelers abroad. Another 23 percent said they foresee complications with existing travel arrangement for a significant number of travelers. And 11 percent said they were worried that contracts with U.S.-based company and Middle Eastern firms could be canceled as a result.

Employers are likely taking account of who their travelers are, what their immigration status is, and what risk they might face by leaving the country, Koch said. In a statement, he said anyone who has been granted a visa “should not be subject to fear, delays, or harassment over their visa document.”

Koch said he expects to see businesses react as they often do when there is instability in the world: cautiously.

“If there’s still uncertainty about how this executive order is going to be implemented…then you’re going to end on the side of caution and not start that trip,” he said. “That’s where we’ll see that impact to the economy potentially.”


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Tags: acte, business travel, corporate travel

Photo credit: Attorneys offer legal help on Monday at San Francisco International Airport following President Donald Trump's travel ban. Nearly 40 percent of companies responding to a survey said they expect to reduce business travel as a result. Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

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