Friday 9 December 2016

President Trump and travel: Six ways the election could affect US travel

#PresidentTrump

Published 09/11/2016 | 13:30

Trump's International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg
Trump's International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg
Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Sacramento, California on June 01, 2016. Photo: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

As the world picks its jaw off the floor, the ramifications of a Trump presidency are starting to emerge.

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It's too early to say definitively what impact a President Trump (himself, a travel tycoon) will have, but several questions come to mind.

1. Will American holidays get cheaper?

After Donald Trump became President-elect, the US dollar slumped noticeably against foreign currencies including the pound and euro.

It remains to be seen how any short-term volatility plays out, but if the dollar continues to fall, then holidays could become cheaper for Irish people visiting the US - with their euro gaining purchasing power in US resorts, restaurants and shops.

Other prices levied in US dollars - from airline leases to cruise ship fares and global oil rates - could also result in falling prices for travellers.

2. What about immigration and visas?

Security has been ramped up in the 15 years since 9/11, but Trump's threat to ban US entry for all Muslims is an unprecedented proposition.

Regardless of whether any such regime is rolled out, the queues at US Customs and Border Protection are unlikely to loosen up during this Presidency.

A review of visa waiver programs is also a possibility, as is the abolition of the J-1. In August 2015, Trump declared that if president, the student visa would be terminated and replaced with a scheme to create jobs for young people in US inner cities.

3. Will Irish tourism suffer?

Much as Brexit has suddenly made Ireland and the Eurozone more expensive for British visitors, so a falling dollar would flip the exchange for US tourists.

A boom in US visitors has been one of the key drivers of Irish tourism's recovery, not to mention mushrooming transatlantic routes. Anything that drives the euro up against the dollar will reduce the spending power of inbound tourists.

4. What next for Trump Hotels?

Although reports of customers avoiding Trump-branded hotels in the wake of the President-Elect's controversial campaign are difficult to confirm, there is no doubt but that his brand has become a lightening rod in the past 18 months.

Data released by Foursquare and its sister app Swarm last August found that footfall to Trump's resorts, hotels and golf courses dropped by up to 17pc since his campaign began. Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City has ceased operations entirely.

Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, Co. Clare, which Trump acquired in 2014, will no doubt watch developments with interest.

5. What about transatlantic flights?

Low-cost transatlantic flights are one of the hottest trends in travel, with the likes of WOW air and Norwegian increasingly disrupting the departures boards.

At first glance, Trump's campaign positions on trade don't augur well for Norwegian, which is battling fierce political opposition in the US to its proposed direct flights from Cork to Boston and New York. The differences centre around labour issues.

Any slump in the economy or 'trade war' under Trump would also, of course, be likely to hamper growth in the travel industry as a whole.

6. Will tourists stay away?

In the immediate aftermath of this morning's election results, many users have taken to social media to say they will reconsider visiting the US.

Will they follow through? It's hard to say, but the US has seen 44 presidents of varying popularity, and has always remained a fascinating travel destination.

Much will depend on how Trump governs, as opposed to campaigns.

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