Banning Travelers Is Bad for Business

Let’s for the moment imagine it’s a busy night at the restaurant above in Miami. Busy is a welcome situation, what with sales and traffic spiraling in the wrong direction at many full-service eateries. And busy in Miami is likely to mean foreign customers are in the house, drawn by beaches, beautiful people and business.

Those visitors spend a huge amount of money. Miami’s tourist bureau reports that in 2015 “overnight visitors spent an estimated $24.4 billion in direct expenditures in Greater Miami and the Beaches (more than $500 million more than in 2014), the bulk of which was from international visitors.”

Now, however, the National Restaurant Association fears the spiral will only deepen with President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban. From an NRA email we received today:

“While the Trump Administration has announced changes to its previous travel executive order, we remain concerned about the negative impacts any Executive Order may have on our economy and American small businesses. The National Restaurant Association has always advocated for stronger border security and enforcement measures that keep Americans safe. However, we must balance our safety and security with the importance of the economic contributions of travel and tourism to our country as we are already seeing negative effects the previous Executive Order is having on our economy.” — Cicely Simpson, Executive Vice President, National Restaurant Association

NRA officials were was reacting to a Bloomberg article, warning that the president’s “immigration stance has begun to discourage foreign visits to major U.S. cities, threatening to cost billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.” New York officials, for example, are predicting trips to the Big Apple — the most popular destination in the U.S. for foreign visitors and Trump’s hometown — will shrink by 2 percent in 2017, to 12.4 million. The city hasn’t seen a decline in visits for eight years.

Things will only get worse as the travel ban continues. Foreign visitors, for example, dropped a staggering $250 billion in the U.S. last year. And you can bet a fair portion of that sum went to restaurants. The article predicts Trump’s policies will trim their spend by $7.4 million while 4.3 million fewer visitors bother to show up.