WASHINGTON (AFP) - Travel bookings to the United States fell 6.5 per cent in late January compared to last year in the wake of President Donald Trump's travel ban, according to a report Wednesday (Feb 8).
The travel restrictions apparently deterred travellers from outside the seven Muslim-majority countries hit by the ban, according to data from ForwardKeys, a travel analysis firm.
The executive order, signed Jan 27 and suspended by the courts since Feb 3, blocked the arrival of travellers and refugees from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.
Arrivals from those countries from Jan 28 to Feb 4 were down 80 per cent from the same period of 2016, the report said.
But bookings from Western Europe and the Asia Pacific region each fell about 14 per cent, while those from Northern Europe were down 6.6 per cent. (The data excludes China and Hong Kong due to the Chinese New Year holiday impact.)
"The data forces a compelling conclusion that Donald Trump's travel ban immediately caused a significant drop in bookings to the USA and an immediate impact on future travel," ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager said in the report.
"As inbound travel is an export industry (it earns foreign currency), this is not good news for the US economy."
While he cautioned that the data represents just an eight-day snapshot, the report said the period represents the first consistently long run of declines from the corresponding year-earlier period since before the presidential election in November.
In addition, total international bookings for travel to the United States for the coming three months have slowed amid the continuing immigration controversy.
While they are currently 2.3 per cent ahead of last year, they had been running 3.4 per cent ahead just eight days earlier, the report said.