Photo via Wikimedia/Rene Ehrhardt

Photo via Wikimedia/Rene Ehrhardt

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) projects a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the United States in 2017, including hotels, food, rental cars, and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent.

That includes $250 million lost in spending from inbound business travelers from Europe and the Middle East, according to GBTA. The greater concern is that the longer-term impact on business travel will become even larger as companies begin to host meetings and events in other destinations.

Using first quarter ticketing data from the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), publicly available travel data, and GBTA’s economic research and models, GBTA developed an “uncertainty forecast” for 2017 showing the impact this geopolitical uncertainty is having on the economy.

U.S. GDP will take a nearly $300 million hit, according to the forecast. More than 4,200 jobs could be lost along with $175 million in wages and $70 million in tax collections. Europe is forecast to lose over $250 million in air fare spending and the Middle East will lose over $80 million in air fare.

As we await the verdict on a possible expansion of the electronics ban, we have yet another uncertainty factor. While it is different from the travel ban executive orders, and there is no doubt that the electronics ban is based on a clear security threat, it is the cumulative impact of anti-travel policies that leave the perception to many that the U.S. is closed for business.

If it is in the best interest of security, business travelers are willing to comply with these types of measures, however, most business travelers would much rather accept a more rigorous screening at the airport than part with their devices.

Nearly half of business travelers prefer to stay connected and get work done while flying. Not allowing them to bring their devices on the plane reduces productivity and that comes with a cost to the tune of nearly $900 million if expanded beyond Middle East countries to Europe, according to GBTA’s forecast.

“We urge the Trump administration to consider the important lasting impact of business travel and enact policies going forward that preserve both our national security and our economy for the future,” said the GBTA forecast.