The Global Business Travel Association’s new forecast looking at the cumulative economic impact of global uncertainty and anti-travel policies projects a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the United States in 2017. This includes hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travellers would have spent.
The ‘uncertainty forecast’ uses first quarter ticketing data from the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), publicly available travel data, and GBTA’s economic research and models. Included in the projections is $250 million lost in spending from inbound business travellers from Europe and the Middle East, while U.S. GDP is forecast to take a hit of nearly $300 million. More than 4,200 jobs could be lost, along with $175 million in wages and $70 million in tax collections.
In short: mounting geopolitical uncertainty is bad for business travel and bad for the global economy. The GBTA also noted that another uncertainty factor – the cumulative impact of anti-travel policies – could leave the perception to many that the United States is closed for business. As a result of the hit business travel is expected to take as a result of these policies, the GBTA also urged the TSA to pursue alternative options to effectively reduce the risk of terrorism.
Impact of electronics ban
In particular, it encouraged the TSA to explore alternatives to the recent ‘electronics ban’ that has required travellers to part with devices larger than a mobile phone on carry-on luggage for direct flights departing from 10 major airports in the Middle East to the U.S. “If it is in the best interest of security, business travellers are willing to comply with these types of measures,” the GBTA said in a press release.
“However, most business travellers would much rather accept a far more rigorous screening at the airport than part with their devices. Nearly half of business travellers prefer to stay connected and get work done while flying.”
The comments came amidst reports that the Trump administration’s electronics ban was shortly due to be extended to European airports, with the GBTA saying that not allowing passengers to bring their devices onboard serves to reduce productivity – with a likely cost of nearly $900 million if expanded beyond countries in the Middle East to Europe.