The election is over and the results are in – Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States of America. While some travel agents are happy with the result, others have anonymously described their feelings as “shocked,” “disappointed,” and “afraid.”
How the new presidency will affect the travel industry remains to be seen. Rumors suggest that Trump might change the travel policies to Cuba and some are concerned that his presidency will keep nervous citizens at home instead of traveling. We asked agents to share their feelings about the next POTUS and these hot topics.
“First thing I did this morning was pray for our elected leaders and our nation,” said Mario Scalzi, president of ParkerVillas.com. “It was important from a travel perspective that the result was conclusive. Election cycles without incumbents are typically problematic — each side is afraid the world will end if the opposition wins resulting in a paralyzing effect. An undisputed outcome allows folks to quickly switch their focus back to their own lives — especially travel. Losing sides are always incentivized to get out of Dodge for a while, just as winners see travel as an opportunity to celebrate. Glad it's over.”
Christina Ernst said that it was difficult reading the news stories online today. “I took the results hard since I run three businesses based on travel,” said Ernst, of VIP Southern Tours Wine Tours. “I have had a few clients reach out to me regarding moving, but I think this attitude will change in a few years. I am concerned on short-term travel with clients, and international travel. I do believe we will see a surge in last-minute travel on both inbound and outbound travel this holiday season.”
“Between hotels, casinos and golf courses, Trump has a demonstrated interest in the hospitality industry,” Rick Hurlbut, a travel industry professional. “While his personal assets will now be placed in a blind trust, there's good reason to believe he will enact policies which benefit the tourism industry - if only to further his own business interests.”
Greg Antonelle said that it doesn’t matter what his personal opinion is about the election. “Regardless of how I voted as an individual, 59 million people agreed with me and 59 million people disagreed with me,” said Antonelle, managing partner of MickeyTravels, LLC. “That being said, I don’t believe much will change with regards to our travel business with Donald Trump as president. I don’t anticipate any significant uptick or downturn in business and I don’t foresee any consumers traveling more or less because of Trump being elected.”
Leila Peverett Coe, an independent consultant for World Class Travel and a co-founder of Travel Agent Awareness, believes that it’s a little too early to say what's going to happen, but she hopes people will still continue to travel.
“But if the economy collapses then they won't,” she said. “I am concerned that people won't want to leave the country for a while after he's in office for fear something bad will happen. I've seen the ups and downs after previous elections and do think that 2017 will be a down year.”
When it comes to relations with Cuba, Tammy Levent, of Elite Travel, said that she isn’t concerned about how Trump changes travel to Cuba.
“Cuba is the least of our issues,” she said. “I'm concerned people will not spend money and start panicking and not traveling again as they did years ago.”
Jacob Marek is concerned about rolling back the progress that’s already been made. “But also, I’m concerned about the implications of a potentially deep recession, which could mean people cutting back on travel expenses,” said the founder & Chief Explorer at IntroverTravels.
Hurlbut said that American travel to Cuba could certainly be impacted by not just the Trump win, but more so because the traditionally anti-Castro Republican Party has regained both the House and Senate. “This will affect both cruise lines and airlines that had won the right to serve Cuba, but may be seen as a plus to Canadians and Europeans who had become concerned that American tourists would drive up room rates,” he said. “Cuba could become a cheap destination as suppliers worry about the fallout.”
Hurlbut also believes that Canadians traveling to the USA may be impacted depending on the U.S. dollar, combined with whether they choose to make a political statement by staying away. “Like most people, Canadians tend to make travel decisions based on their wallets, but also on a sense of safety,” he said. “If there are riots in the coming days, along racial or ideological lines, expect Canadians to avoid U.S. cities for a while."
Sergio Barros, director of sales for the Tenerife Bureau of Tourism, believes that the Trump presidency will positively influence the value of the dollar, “making it more affordable for travelers to visit Europe, and Tenerife in particular,” he said. “His presidency might impact tourism to Mexico and perhaps tourists will now seek out other Spanish-speaking destinations, such as Spain and the Canary Islands.”
Marjorie Laflin of It’s a Fine Day Travel, said she’s taking a wait-and-see approach. “I think both inbound and outbound travel will depend on Trump's relationship with the other countries of the world,” she said. “Better relationships foster more travel opportunities. On the topic of Cuba, the GOP is historically against engagement. Nevertheless, I foresee a reversal of all or nearly all of the recent executive orders to liberalize travel and commerce with Cuba but again, only time will tell.”
Simply put, Lynda Hawkins does not think that political opinions on the outcome of this election has anything at all to do with the travel industry. “At this time, it's impossible to predict what Trump's goal on Cuban travel will be,” said Hawkins, who works at Best Connection Travel.
However, Greg Geronemus, the co-CEO of smarTours is concerned about this relationship. “I believe that there is no better way to help the Cuban people than to send Americans to engage in meaningful, people-to-people exchanges,” he said. “Ever since Obama's historic announcement in December 2014 and the massive influx of American travelers, we have seen tremendous progress in Cuba, and there's no better example than the privately owned restaurants (paladars) that have served scores of American travelers. The owners of these restaurants have benefited financially and many have reinvested in their communities to restore buildings and help others. I'm hopeful that President-elect Trump will do the right thing, but I’ll also add: if you really want to go to Cuba, go soon.”
Shari Latif said that Trump has bigger issues than Cuba to deal with. “I don't think we will really know where Trump is heading until he starts picking his cabinet and advisers,” said Latif, Travel Designer/Founder at Treasured Travel Experience. “I don't think he will have an impact on Cuba at least not at the beginning.”
Geronemus sums up this election season rather well. “Regardless of your politics, this has been a rough election, and I firmly believe everyone needs a vacation,” he said.