According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism comprises roughly 8% of U.S. GDP and 9.3% of total employment, and “by 2025, Travel & Tourism is forecast to support 17,157,000 jobs (10.6% of total employment).” Being the land of the free is a central plank of our economy, and it gives rise to a massive industry supported by foreigners who want to experience what makes this country truly great. Now that our greatness is in jeopardy, so is the health of that industry.
Donald Trump’s travel ban to seven Muslim majority countries has already created implications far past its intended fascist consequences. Travel Weekly reported over the weekend that they set the decline of foreign tourism by 6.8% as a result of this misguided policy. Per Frommer’s write-up of the data:
As far as travel by distinct religious groups, flight passengers from the seven Muslim-majority nations named by Trump were down by 80% in the last week of January and first week of February, according to Forward Keys, a well-known firm of travel statisticians. On the web, flight searches for trips heading to the U.S. out of all international locations was recently down by 17%.
According to the Global Business Travel Association, in only a single week following announcement of the ban against certain foreign tourists, the activity of business travel declined by nearly $185 million.
One glance at the stock prices of the largest hotel chains reflects this downturn, as they all follow the exact same pattern: expand the data to a month, and they peak after the first two weeks of his presidency, then decline the second two.
Marriott was at $90.73 per share on February 16th, and it currently sits at $87.48.
Hilton hit $59.46 on February 15th, and is now at $57.82.
Hyatt reached $56.98 on February 15th, and has declined to $51.79 per share as of this writing.
Wyndham rose to $85.70 on February 15th, and now sits at $83.94.
Clearly they rode the wave of positivity fueling the rest of the stock market during the early days of the Trump administration, but once the realities of his rule set in, something changed. Big stocks like these declining may be our best bet to combat the implementation of this nonsensical and discriminatory rule, as the only people Donald Trump listens to have a B in front of their net worth, and he clearly values money over people given how his business model of continually screwing people over has seemingly left him without any close personal friends.
Given that the travel industry consists of predominantly middle and lower-class paying jobs in hotels, travel agencies, airlines, ground transportation services and restaurant and leisure industries, this downswing will predominantly hurt people who literally cannot afford it right now—many of whom comprise the voting block who swept him into office. Any half-decent con man can speak to people’s pain, but to alleviate it takes an entirely different skillset, and the only one that Donald Trump is equipped with will exasperate that misery. Given that we have already detained a holocaust expert, a world-renowned children’s author, and countless other travelers, this trend is likely to get worse before it gets better, as a friend of mine detailed on her Facebook page:
The silver lining in all of this is that pain is likely our best weapon against a two-term Trump administration. People don’t learn until we can actually feel the negative consequences of our actions. Seinfeld is a great show for many reasons, a central one being that this scene is basically an elevator pitch that describes humanity. In this analogy, Donald Trump is the hot plate, the waitress symbolizes #NeverTrump and Elaine Benes and David Puddy are Trump acolytes.
With any luck, they won’t touch the plate again in 2020. Barack Obama was elected in very much the same vein as Trump—as a cult of personality who spoke to people’s suffering more than a coherent set of policies did—and if Donald Trump thinks that some of his voters won’t turn on him too once his policies fail, then he’s an even worse student of history than his meandering, incoherent, ramblings suggest.
Jacob Weindling is Paste’s business and media editor, as well as a staff writer for politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.