Trump effect: Flight searches down from China and Canada, up from Russia

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Trump and Theresa May, NATO Summit
President Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May at the NATO Summit 2018. Photo Credit: Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock

Recent foreign policy events involving President Donald Trump have consistently impacted travel searches to the U.S., according to an analysis by the flight-search app Hopper.

While most those events have weakened search demand from the countries directly impacted by or involved in the event, Trump's summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday had the opposite effect. 

Among the events Hopper examined were the June G7 conference in Canada and last week's NATO summit in Belgium, both of which featured sharp criticism by Trump against U.S. allies. After the G7, Trump tweeted insults toward Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

Hopper also looked at search data from the days coinciding with when the Trump administration policy of separating the children of migrants from their parents at the border was widely publicized. In addition, the app examined the impact of the Supreme Court's June 26 ruling in favor of the travel ban and the July 6 implementation of the Trump administration's first tariffs against China. 

Finally, Hopper examined the travel demand from Russia to the U.S. this past weekend, with Monday's summit between Trump and Putin in the offing. 

For the study, Hopper analyzed more than 6 billion flight searches that it collected from GDSs. 

In the case of the G7 summit, Hopper found that search demand for travel to the U.S. from Canada dropped 21% in its immediate aftermath. Demand from most other G7 countries also declined, including an overall decline of 2.6% from Europe. 

In the aftermath of the NATO summit last week, flight search demand to the U.S. dropped 5%. Flight search interest from Mexico dropped 8% as the controversy over the Trump administration's child separation policy peaked. Likewise, search demand from China slid 8% immediately after U.S. tariffs went into effect.

Of the seven countries whose citizens are impacted by the travel ban, Hopper only had adequate search data from Iraq, Somalia and Venezuela. Search demand from Venezuela stayed flat while it dropped 11% from Iran and 32% from Somalia.

Conversely, flight search demand from potential Russian travelers to the U.S. jumped 11% ahead of Monday's Putin-Trump summit. 

Looking more broadly, Hopper found that the overall share of international flight searches from non-U.S. origins that include the U.S. as a destination has dropped from 35% before Trump's election to 31% during the 20 months since then.

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