Obama win brings hope to travel industry

Barack Obama’s election as US president has electrified the world, bringing hope his victory will transform America’s image and bring benefits to travel.

Federation of Tour Operators director-general Andy Cooper said: “Making people feel good has to help. If it makes America slightly less hated around the world there are less likely to be terrorist attacks.”

But he added: “Obama appears to be quite protectionist, although he has not said a great deal about issues that affect travel.”

Sunvil Holidays managing director Noel Josephides warned: “We should expect the dollar to strengthen.” The dollar has recently risen in value from £2 to £1.55, making oil more expensive.

An ABTA spokeswoman said: “There has to be a feel-good factor and there will be goodwill towards the US as a destination. But the dollar rate may hold back the market.

“Some groups have been put off by the Fortress America [policy] and people may feel differently. It will change perception. How much it will be easier to enter the US is another matter.”

One destination that should benefit is Cuba. US citizens are barred from travel to the island and companies may not trade with Cuba. Obama has said he will relax the restrictions and a flood of American visitors is expected.

But Cooper suggested: “Overall, his election is not going to make a huge impact.”

On security, Obama has promised to withdraw US troops from Iraq, which may reduce the threat of terror attacks. However, he is committed to the US staying in Afghanistan and has argued Jerusalem should be capital of Israel – an unpopular policy across the Middle East.

Obama is pledged to maintain US border security, including immigration controls at airports, and has made limited commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The economic impact of his victory could be mixed. Financial markets may strengthen with the end to uncertainty about the next president.

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