ASTA is worried that the Trump administration's travel ban
on seven countries, though currently stayed, is having a "chilling effect"
on the travel industry and affecting travel agents' businesses.
Also, members have told the Society that clients have expressed
concern about traveling to Mexico, given the president's executive order to
construct a border wall and headlines about strained U.S.-Mexico relations.
"The way [the travel ban] was implemented and all the
confusion that it created and the headlines it created is having an impact, it's
clear, beyond people coming into [the U.S.] from just these seven
countries. ... It's having a chilling effect on the travel industry
generally," ASTA senior vice president of government affairs and
communications Eben Peck said during a press call Tuesday.
The president's ban, issued in a Jan. 27 executive order, kept citizens from seven Muslim-majority
countries (Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Sudan) from entering
the United States for 90 days. The executive was blocked by a
federal judge on Feb. 4.
ASTA sought anecdotes from members to gather feedback on what
they're experiencing. Amie O'Shaughnessy, founder and CIO of Ciao Bambino in
Oakland, Calif., said an Indian client with a green card canceled a trip to
Europe on the advice of his attorney.
Julie Imgrund, president of Bellevue Travel in Bellevue,
Neb., said one client who is a citizen and holds a U.S. passport was reluctant
to leave the country regardless. Another client was planning a spring break
trip to Cancun, who said "her husband is freaking out because he's sure
all Mexicans hate all Americans, and they'll be in danger when they travel, so
now he doesn't want to go."
Imgrund was not the only agent with clients concerned about
traveling to Mexico.
"Of course, Mexico has nothing to do with the order,
but we're hearing people are concerned about how Americans are going to be
received abroad, so this concerns us," Peck said. "There's time to right
the ship and get clear rules of the road for everybody, but we fear that it
might start having a real impact on our members' businesses."
ASTA has also put out a survey asking members if they are seeing
an impact to their corporate, inbound or outbound business. Peck estimated the
results of that survey might be available toward the end of next week.
ASTA members' opinions on Trump's ban are mixed.
"There are certainly people, a good chunk, that support
what President Trump is doing," Peck said.
Regarding ASTA's position on the ban, he said, "Uncertainty
is bad for the travel industry, and I think it's undeniable that this created a
lot of uncertainty."