International visitors appear to be choosing other countries first when it comes to searching for airline tickets to the United States since President Donald J. Trump’s Jan 20 inauguration according to a new report by flight-data firm Hopper.com.
Overall, airfare searches from international destinations to the U.S. fell by 17% since Trump took office, but searches from the seven countries included in the now-halted travel ban dropped 33% in the same period, Hopper said. The company, however, noted there was one exception: flights from Russia to the U.S., which jumped up by 88%.
USA Today reported international travel experts state the way the Trump administration handled the ban, prompted many would-be travelers to reconsider visiting the U.S. In Ireland, for example, travelers “panicked” and canceled trips over the uncertainty, Pat Dawson, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association, told USA Today.
“The constant battles the president is having with different countries does not send out a welcoming message and is making American and Americans more insular,” Dawson told USA Today. “America has always been very good to the Irish and up to now we always felt, right or wrong, we had a special relationship with its people and in particular its president, no matter what party he or she came from.”
Dawson also told USA Today that Irish airlines have begun discounting flights in an effort to reverse the travel trend, and hopes the situation changes “for both our countries sakes’.”
Trump’s travel ban, which he issued by executive order late last month, is also causing international travelers to think before booking a trip to the U.S., even if they are not from the current seven Muslim majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen included in the order. The order is currently under consideration by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a Seattle-based judge ruled that Trump exceeded his authority in issuing the order and halted it.
Zane Kerby, the CEO of the American Society of Travel Agents, told USA Today that while the ban applied only to those countries, travelers from all over the world have gotten suddenly cautious. The publication also reported that Kerby said his members are saying some American companies are pulling back their foreign national employees to the U.S., in case the ban suddenly expands. They are also delaying travel abroad over fears about how welcomed they’ll be, given the mass street protests and international headlines about the Trump travel ban. Some travelers, he said told USA Today, seem to be saying they just don’t want to bother traveling to a country that’s suddenly restricting visitors.
“They’re unwilling to take that risk,” Kerby told USA Today. “Broadly, it’s really clear from our members that the actions of the past few weeks has injected a great deal of uncertainty in to the travel industry.”