Friday Briefing: Trump to “Rescind and Replace” Travel Ban

TWA Terminal at New York JFK Airport
Photo by littleny/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a brief with a federal appeals court indicating that it will not seek to overturn a decision blocking key parts of President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, the New York Times reports. In a press conference on Thursday, President Trump indicated that a new executive order would be issued next week. 

“Rather than continuing this litigation,” the Justice Department wrote in its brief, “the president intends in the near future to rescind the order and replace it with a new, substantially revised executive order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns.”

The move follows a unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit against lifting an earlier suspension of the ban. In the weeks since the policy was announced, travel industry groups have been weighing in on the impact. 

In a recent press call with Travel AgentEben Peck, SVP, government and industry affairs at the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) said that the ban was having a “chilling effect” on the travel industry. At the same time, ASTA said that the views of its membership on the policy are split, and that it would release a survey diving deeper into what its member agents think of the ban. 

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow had said that, while his organization recognizes the need to maintain national security, the order could hurt business and leisure travel to the United States. 

"Over the past two weeks, our members have voiced their concerns about how an unintended consequence of this executive order could be a reduction in both international leisure and business travel to the United States,” Dow said. “Destinations large and small depend on these visitors to sustain local businesses and jobs.

"That said, we stand with the administration, Congress and law enforcement officials, as we all remain vigilant during an era of constantly changing global security dynamics,” Dow said. “As always, we believe in striking a balance that places a premium on both security and our nation’s history as a welcoming place for travelers from around the globe."

According to a study by travel company Hopper cited in the Chicago Tribune, international search demand for flights to the U.S. fell 17 percent after the travel ban compared with the week before Trump’s inauguration. 

"This is one of the first times that we've seen a sustained decline in search from people outside the U.S. trying to come into the U.S.," Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, told the Tribune. According to the Hopper study, demand fell in 94 out of 122 countries of origin, including countries unaffected by the travel ban, such as China, Ireland, Denmark and New Zealand. Russia was an exception, with flight searches jumping up 88 percent in the same period. 

In terms of business travel, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that nearly half of travel professionals in Europe said that their company expects to reduce business travel over the next three months due to the ban, while 31 percent of respondents from the United States agreed. The GBTA estimated that U.S. business travel transactions fell up to 8 percent month-over-month from December to January. U.S. business travel had been increasing by 1.2 percent in the week before the ban was issued, but fell 2.2 percent the week after, for a net negative impact of 3.4 percent over the week the ban was issued. That led to approximately $185 million in lost business bookings over the course of that week. 

“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,” the GBTA said. “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 canceled.”

Looking ahead, the GBTA argued that, even as the stay on the ban continues, the uncertainty created by the executive order could continue to slow advance business travel bookings. 

"The cloud of uncertainty could leave a lasting economic impact. Large corporations and small businesses alike will suffer," the GBTA said. "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."

Have a tip on major travel industry news, or an inspiring story you’d like to share? Reach out at [email protected]

And keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest travel industry news, trends and updates.