President Trump’s Executive Order temporarily banning certain individuals from coming into the United States may be designed to prevent potentially dangerous people from entering the country. But immigration policies cannot be weighed in a vacuum. There will be other ramifications from this order, including economic effects across the county. Private sector companies, non-profit associations and private individuals have shared their sentiments to this end. Regardless of whether one supports President Trump’s politics, the travel ban’s economic impact could be quite real and possibly long lasting.
Numerous companies have weighed in to caution that the temporary travel ban could impact American businesses. Amazon and Expedia have each provided statements outlining what they view as potential negative economic impacts of the executive order. Cargill has also commented, noting in an e-mail statement, “Cargill is working with its travel and security partners to determine what the action means for our employees.”
And Apple’s CEO responded to the Executive Order with a much broader comment, stating that “Apple would not exist without immigration.”
Non-profit organizations are also raising concerns over how the travel ban is impacting U.S. higher education institutions. The executive director of the Association of International Educators, Esther Brimmer, said: “Universities and colleges have already begun reporting cases of students and scholars stranded after traveling for reasons including studying abroad, attending conferences, and visiting sick or dying family members.”
The travel and tourism industry may be impacted as well. According to US Travel, direct spending by resident and international travelers in the United States averaged $2.6 billion a day in 2015. If the Executive Order hypothetically had a 1% impact on travel and tourism, direct spending might decrease by $2.6 million every day. What is more, the industry supports 15.1 million jobs, and a 1% impact might mean 151,000 fewer jobs. There is anecdotal evidence that restrictive immigration policies have previously impacted travel and tourism. Laura Mandala, who runs an Alexandria, Virginia, market research company for clients in the travel industry, including the Marriott hotel chain and state travel bureaus, has said many of her clients spent less on her services in the years that immediately followed 9/11 and that she fears a repeat.
Longer term, immigration policies of the sort put forward in Trump’s travel ban can yield lasting damage to a desire to visit the United States. Given experiences at one land border, some travelers have already indicated troubling sentiments. In the comments of an article in Ontario’s Windsor-Star, one person wrote: “I’m not crossing for a while. Trump is so against everything I stand for. I feel like supporting his USA and economy is not right. I was a frequent USA shopper for groceries and events but not any longer. I’m Staying Canadian side.”
Another person wrote, “I think the US will see a lot of us Canadians staying on this side of the border. The dollar isn’t doing very well and even if it was and you wanted to go shopping in Southgate, you might have to be screened and prove your (sic) Canadian even with a passport and birth certificate. I don’t trust them.”
Even as not all travelers may hold these sentiments, they are nevertheless emblematic of a potential shift in perception of traveling to the United States. To the extent that one or more of these individuals chooses to no longer purchase goods or services in the United States, there is going to be some economic impact. Coupled with statements from the private and non-profit sectors, the travel ban gives significant reason for economic concern.