President Donald Trump’s ban on nationals from seven mainly Muslim countries entering the US appears to be deterring travelers from other countries around the world too, according to data from ForwardKeys. The travel intelligence analyst monitors travel patterns by analyzing 16 million flight reservation transactions a day.
The findings show that after President Trump’s initial travel ban (imposed on January 27) net bookings issued from those seven countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 were down 80% on the same period last year.
Bookings from Northern Europe were down 6.6%, Western Europe were down 13.6% and Southern Europe down 2.9%. Travel from the Middle East was down 37.5% and from Asia Pacific down 14%.
Analyzing total outbound bookings from each of those regions to provide a benchmark, in every case, the US lost market share as total outbound travel from Northern Europe was flat, from Western Europe was down 1%, from Southern Europe was up 3.1%, from the Middle East was down 13% and from Asia Pacific was down 8.9%.
Against this trend, bookings from Central/Eastern Europe and The Americas were up 15.8% and 2.3% respectively. However, when one looks again at outbound travel from those two regions of the world, total travel was up substantially, 12%
from Central/Eastern Europe and 4.8% from the Americas so the increases in travel to the US look less impressive in this context.
For the Middle East as a whole – beyond the banned countries – during the last year, bookings to the US were already down 8.8%, but focusing on bookings issued from January 28 to February 4, they fell 38%. Bookings from Saudi Arabia were down 60% but the substantial decrease could partly be due to a school break schedule.
The eight-day period coinciding with the travel ban is the first time since before the presidential election in early November that there has been a consistently long run of negative variations compared with the equivalent period the year before. For reference, inbound bookings to the US for the whole of the past year were down 0.4%.
After Federal Judge James Robart placed a temporary block on Donald Trump’s travel ban, bookings to the US from Iran, on February 3 and 4, saw a dramatic surge, five times higher than same two days last year. Most were for arrival on February 5 and 6 and with lengths of stay of 22 nights or more and, according to ForwardKeys data, Iran was the only country to see such a surge following the suspension of the ban.
ForwardKeys monitors the origin of trips, not the nation-ality of travelers. So figures for travel from places like Iran may include expats returning home. Also, there are nationals of the seven banned countries living elsewhere who were prevented from traveling to the US.
As for bookings for future US arrivals over the next three months, the seven banned countries are behind 15% on last year, up from 10% behind on Jan. 27. This illustrates how the travel ban worsened an already negative trend. Total international bookings for US arrivals for the coming three months are currently 2.3% ahead of last year. However, just eight days before, they were running 3.4% ahead.