NATIONAL REPORT—During an address to the nation, President Donald J. Trump announced a 30-day ban on travel to the U.S. from much of Europe. U.S. citizens and permanent residents and their families, health professionals who are working to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, diplomats and air or sea crew are not part of the ban.
Nations affected include those that are part of the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
According to U.S. Travel Association economists, 850,000 international visitors flying from Europe (excluding the U.K.) entered the U.S in March of 2019, accounting for about 29% of total overseas arrivals to the U.S. These visitors spent approximately $3.4 billion in the U.S.
The ban has been met with a variety of reactions.
Roger Dow, president/CEO, U.S. Travel Association, expressed concern for the already stressed travel industry. “In taking aggressive steps to protect the public against coronavirus, the U.S. government should now consider equally aggressive steps to protect America’s workforce and employers,” he said. “The public’s health is the top concern, but now the policy conversation must address the health of the economy.”
He continued, “Temporarily shutting off travel from Europe is going to exacerbate the already heavy impact of the coronavirus on the travel industry and the 15.7 million Americans whose jobs depend on travel. We have and will continue to engage Congress and the administration on policy steps that are necessary to ensure that travel employers—83% of which are small businesses—can keep the lights on for their employees.”
AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton issued the following statement about the president’s announcement regarding steps the administration planned to take to combat COVID-19 and address the economic fallout from the pandemic:
“The aggressive steps to protect the public from COVID-19 announced by the president will have a significant economic impact on hotel owners and the hospitality industry. We will continue to work with our industry and brand partners to urge President Trump and Speaker Pelosi to take action to protect American workers and small business owners from the economic fallout of this crisis. It was encouraging to hear that the Small Business Administration has more authority to provide capital and liquidity to businesses affected by COVID-19, and the three-month tax holiday for small and mid-sized businesses could be helpful. We are watching the implementation of these moves closely.
“As an industry whose livelihood depends on travel and tourism, we are concerned with the long-term effects on the ability of Americans and international visitors to travel to and from the United States. European and Asian travelers are critical to our businesses. We look forward to working with our partners in government as we seek common sense remedies to the public health and economic crisis we face.”
For Ralph Hollister, travel & tourism analyst, GlobalData, a data and analytics company, the ban was met with confusion. “With over 1,200 cases in the U.S., it is unlikely that the virus will be contained,” he said. “The U.S. government is advising against all nonessential travel; however, some citizens will still be willing to run the risk. Questions may arise as to why U.S. citizens are still able to travel as they now pose a similar threat to other nations as Europe does to the U.S.”
He added, “A travel ban may be too little too late now that the virus is spreading throughout the global population. Additionally, the disruption from this ban will cause a significant impact on the U.S. travel sector. U.S. travel intermediaries, hotels and airports are examples of industries that will be heavily disrupted. U.S. airlines may be the first to feel a significant impact, due to travel between North America and Europe, providing a valuable revenue stream.”
Hotel Business has reached out to AHLA and will update this article when we receive a response.