Skift Take

Confusion surrounded last week's travel ban, and two different surveys reflect the mood of the business community. Will time and a little more information provide clarity to ease concerns — or will the new administration create additional chaos with the implementation?

Whatever President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban will accomplish, it’s unlikely the order will make American business travel great again.

According to a new survey from the Global Business Travel Association, nearly a third of respondents said they expect their companies to cut back on business travel because of the ban.

Results of the poll were released Thursday, nearly a week after Trump signed the executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The edict prompted global protests, lawsuits, and condemnation from major corporations including Expedia and Amazon.

Administration officials had to scale back some of the restrictions on legal permanent residents this week, a move that took place as the survey was underway. The poll of U.S. travel buyers who are GBTA members was conducted online between Tuesday and Wednesday. Of the 338 who were invited, 58 participated.

Thirty-one percent of those who responded said they expect the travel ban to force their company to reduce business travel in the next three months. Looking forward, 29 percent expect to reduce travel in the next three to six months, while 28 percent thought there would still be cuts six to 12 months from now.

Half of the respondents strongly or somewhat opposed the ban, while 38 percent strongly or somewhat supported it.

Asked about the anticipated lasting impacts, more than 6 in 10 respondents said they worried that other countries could make travel more difficult for Americans in reaction to the ban. Fifty-six percent were concerned about complications in travel to the U.S., and 54 percent said they feared increased threats against American travelers.

When it came to their own travelers, 55 percent of buyers cited uncertainty about whether green card and visa holders would be able to enter the U.S. Half said they were concerned about harassment of travelers to and from the Middle East, and half also said they were concerned about higher levels of harassment in general against travelers. Almost a quarter said they had none of those concerns.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives released similar results on Monday; 39 percent of those who participated in the organization’s survey expected to trim business travel because of the president’s action.

ACTE executive director Greeley Koch said Monday that the uncertainty surrounding the order could force companies to take the safest route and avoid travel, leading to a potential financial hit for the travel industry.

In a statement, the GBTA also anticipated a negative economic impact based on the survey results.

“Business travel drives lasting business growth and is a leading indicator for jobs,” said Michael McCormick, GBTA executive director and chief operating officer, in the statement. “With 30 percent of companies expected to reduce travel, the economy will certainly take a hit.”

Still, the business travel group did not criticize the order, instead promoting “risk-based security programs like the Visa Waiver Program,” which is in place for 38 countries.

“We hope to have the opportunity to work with the administration going forward to form policies that ensure safe, secure, and efficient travel,” McCormick said.


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Tags: gbta, travel ban, trump

Photo credit: A crowd at Chicago O'Hare International Airport protests President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. According to a new survey, 31 percent of companies expect the ban to cause them to reduce travel. Amy Guth / Flickr

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