PHOTO: Are President Donald Trump's policies driving hotel and airline prices down? (photo via Flickr/Ted Van Pelt)
The head of Expedia has delivered an ominous warning for the U.S. travel industry, claiming the sector is in for "a turbulent year amid falling international interest in visiting the country," according to the Financial Times (h/t Newsmax).
Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who has publicly opposed President Donald Trump's policies in the past, is concerned that the administration's early efforts have damaged the U.S.'s reputation as a premier travel destination, leaving the travel industry with little choice but to cut prices for flights and accommodations.
"I think that because of some of the perceived positions coming out of the current administration, the US as a destination is potentially looking less attractive as a product," Khosrowshahi told the Times.
"One of two things is going to happen. Either the US has to go on sale in order to keep volumes up, or volumes are going to come down. When we look at our business, the leading indicator is pricing. Pricing has come down."
Although Trump's revised travel ban only pertains to foreign nationals in six Muslim-majority countries in Africa and the Middle East, it has clearly hampered travel from the latter region dating back to late January. Reuters cited data from travel search website Kayak showing that searches from European travelers for flights to the U.S. are also down 12 percent since November's election.
Even if the figures across the board are disconcerting, it should be noted that U.S.-bound flight searches on Kayak from Germany are up 10 percent in that same period.
While industry experts are anticipating Trump's presidency to deliver a significant blow, potentially costing it billions over the course of the next two years, there are some encouraging numbers since his election victory that suggests optimism.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) revealed that, this past January, international visitors spent a record $20.8 billion on travel to the U.S., as well as tourism-related activities within the country. A one percent increase over January 2016, the number doesn't exactly denote a dramatic downturn.
READ MORE: Are Political Worries Stopping People from Traveling?
What's more, preliminary booking data still appears to point toward growth.
"They've said things are stable if not growing," Brand USA economist Carroll Rheem told the Associated Press. "So some of the headlines out there about dramatic downward shifts or challenges in bookings are not really consistent with what we've been seeing in that data."
"We’re not seeing any evidence of any particular decline in (travel to the U.S.) but we’re always worried about how other countries feel about entering our country," United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz told Reuters.