Monday 24 September 2018

Trump rhetoric is pushing travellers north to Canada

President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration is believed to have had a negative impact on visitor numbers to the US
President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration is believed to have had a negative impact on visitor numbers to the US

Katie Dmitrieva

Divisive language and policies from US President Donald Trump are helping push business travellers north of the border, the head of Marriott International Inc. said last Wednesday.

Large groups of travellers, particularly for conferences, are changing reservations to friendlier cities such as Toronto over US options "with the view that bringing in an international group would be more hassle-free in Canada and maybe a little bit riskier in the US," chief executive officer Arne Sorenson said in an interview in Toronto.

Revpar growth, a measure of financial performance based on revenue per available room, will be in the "mid- to high single digits" in Canada this year, compared with 1pc to 2pc in the US, Sorenson said.

Revpar growth alone doesn't indicate whether travellers are changing their destination.

"You're going to have people coming in from everywhere, and they're going to be looking at 'Can we get our people in? Are they going to want to go to that place?'" Sorenson said, sipping a cappuccino in a meeting room of the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Sorenson cited the US president's efforts to ban travellers from some Muslim-majority countries and speeches that emphasise nationalism and criticise current immigration policy. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly defended Muslims and extolled immigration.

Marriott is bringing up the issue in conversations with the White House on "welcoming visitors from abroad," Sorenson said, declining to provide details.

Canada's economy is booming, expanding faster than any Group of Seven nation's and forecast to grow at an average of 2pc annually over the next five years.

In the US, gross domestic product grew by 1.5pc last year, though it is forecast to reach 2.4pc next year, according to a survey of economists by Bloomberg.

(Bloomberg)

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