Trade poised to digest impact of Trump US presidency

The trade will today be trying to digest the implications of Republican business mogul Donald Trump becoming president of the US.

The prospect of a Trump presidency will be central to discussions by the global travel industry gathering for the final day of World Travel Market in London.

While global financial markets were buffeted by the shock prospect of the multi-billionaire hotel and resort owner beating Democrat rival Hillary Clinton to the White House, sterling rose nearly two cents against the dollar.

Trump has said the UK will be the first in line for a US trade deal, seen as the first major potential post-Brexit international agreement.

He is also familiar with the travel sector, having established Trump Hotels in 2007. The chain has since grown to a portfolio of properties across North America, Ireland and Scotland with plans to expand to South America and Asia.

However, huge uncertainty exists over Trump’s prospective international policy following his pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, the reversal of relaxed travel and trade rules between the US and Cuba and a hard-line on migration.

Trump won crucial swing states of Florida and Ohio and claimed the Democratic heartlands of Michigan and Wisconsin on his way to clinching the White House.

US exhibitors at WTM yesterday were poised for the result, with many privately admitting concerns over the potential impact of a Trump win on the destination’s appeal to overseas visitors.

However, currency fluctuations could have a positive effect in attracting UK visitors who may have been concerned by the falling value of the pound against the dollar.

It is unclear what view Trump will take on inbound tourism, which was embraced by President Obama as a generator of jobs and income.

However, Tom Garzilli, chief marketing officer of destination marketing organisation Brand USA, insisted on Tuesday that the election result would not change its stated aims of achieving 100 million inbound visitors by 2020.

He said: “At the end of the day it really doesn’t change what we are doing.”

Cheapflights managing director Andrew Shelton said: “It’s too early to say what the long term effect on travel to the USA will be following this morning’s news.

“Since campaigning started in earnest, we’ve seen a steady decline in preference for it as a destination, which reached 52% in the final week, compared to earlier this year.

“We know that the USA is perennially the most popular long haul destination for British holidaymakers, with New York being the most searched-for city in the world, but the reality of a Trump White House may drive further uncertainty.

“It could mean Brits delay booking their stateside holidays until the dust settles or even consider switching to an alternative destination, such as Canada.

“Overnight, searches for one-way flights from the US to Canada increased by 133% compared to a month ago.

“Last year, the UK welcomed US tourists who spent £3 billion and whilst we’re confident that Brits will continue to want to visit the USA, what the ‘Trump Effect’ could mean for American tourists – faced with potential currency uncertainty and increased border controls at home – remains to be seen.”

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