I don’t know what a Trump administration will do on very many policy areas. Unlike a traditional candidate, there isn’t the litany of well-crafted proposals published and ready to hand to a stable of clear choices to lead cabinet agencies. And of course we have campaign rhetoric to go off of, but politicians aren’t known for keeping promises.
I think most anyone who knows what a Trump administration will be like is reading in their own preferences or fears rather than making good predictions although this seems as good a guess as any.
In the travel space though there are some things we can expect.
Backing Off of Free Trade and Free Movement of People Isn’t Good for Travel
A key theme in the presidential campaign was restricting the free flow of goods and people. Candidate Trump said over and over that he wanted to renegotiate trade deals especially with China and Mexico, and limit free trade agreements. He wanted to build a wall with Mexico and do greater screening of people entering the U.S. Travel doesn’t benefit from backing off of free trade and increasing restrictions on immigration.
For now the rest of the world sees the U.S. as less open to tourism and immigration whether that is true or not. That’s not good for airlines and hotels, but in the short term it could mean lower airfare. (Ironically though Trump Hotels market to bring Middle Eastern tourists to the US…).
Protectionism for US Airlines Against Choice and Low Prices from Gulf Airlines
Trump’s protectionism could mean a renewed fight over big Gulf carrier access to US markets. Delta’s CEO predicted a Trump win would be good for their attempt to limit consumer choice and raise fares in this regard.
The lobbying group created to represent Delta, American, and United and argue for protectionism says they’re excited by a new Trump administration.
Backed by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines, the coalition says the alleged subsidies to the Gulf airlines place 300,000 US aviation jobs in peril. “We are optimistic that the Trump administration will stand up to the UAE and Qatar, enforce our trade agreements and fight for American jobs,” says a spokesman for the Partnership for Fair and Open Skies.
Emirates A380 Business Class Bar
Good for Trump’s Travel Businesses
Trump’s hotels probably benefit. While continued polarization will drive some people away from Trump properties, and the electoral campaign itself may have been a negative, there’s also a halo effect of the Presidency.
The new hotel brand they were launching had been avoiding using the Trump name. That could change.
Trump also probably now can get the FAA to alter aircraft routings to avoid Mar-a-Lago as he’s sued for in the past. They might also have to bring back the navigation waypoints that used to be named for him.
Ivanka Trump’s status as a travel pundit has to rise, just don’t take her advice on scoring premium cabin upgrades.
Lots of Government Infrastructure Projects, More Disruption Like LaGuardia
There’s talk of increased increased investment in infrastructure. He may have been elected as a Republican but here he sounds like a Democrat. There may be more spending on airports, although that means things getting worse (see: LaGuardia) before they get better, if they do get better many years into the future.
Uncertainty Could Slow Investment in Cuba Travel
There’s been a significant increase in executive power over the past 15 years in the U.S. Actions that used to be thought required congressional legislation have been permitted to be taken by a President unilaterally. But unilateral Presidential action can be undone by a future President unilaterally, constrained only by the limits of public opinion. And as polarized as that opinion appears to be, it will be interesting to see how constraining it is on our next President.
DOT Approved Havana Service
The opening of US travel to Cuba was done based on the President’s authority. It’s unclear whether a Trump administration would roll that back, although I think that would be difficult to do. Nonetheless, uncertainty in this area could at a minimum slow investment. That one Starwood hotel ain’t gonna do it. More generally, uncertainty forestalls investment.