Tourism Likely Impacted by Trump Travel Ban, but Finger Lakes Less Affected

Mar 9, 2017

The Finger lakes Region might not be impacted by a downturn in tourism, due to the recent Travel Ban from the White House
Credit fingerlakes.org

Criticisms of the latest version of President Trump’s Travel Ban have come from New York leaders.  You might have heard earlier on Morning Edition about concerns that the ban has a chilling effect no travel. 

The Finger Lakes area depends quite a bit on tourism for the local economy.  And policies that restrict travel – or inhibit it – could have trickle-down effects. 

Alex Susskind teaches tourism and hospitality management in Cornell University’s Hotel School.  He’s heard mainly from larger areas that the ban will hurt tourism bottom lines.

“Folks in the hotel business in the bigger cities are definitely concerned that the travel ban for those particular countries will have a negative impact on their bottom lines, occupancy rates and what people will be buying and how much money will be spent at their places.  In the local economy, I haven’t heard much of that.”

He notes most of the local tourism…whether its for wineries, craft beer, or outdoor activities such as hiking or boating, are largely local or regional travelers.  But the numerous educational institutions in the region are one exception.

“We have students who are attending college and their parents come to visit them.  When they’re here they do the things that are unique to this area, and so there definitely could be an impact.  And I’ve heard some concern over that.”

State officials have expressed their displeasure over the travel ban’s latest version.  Comptroller Tom DiNapoli notes New York has more than 4 million immigrants – he argues policies that target nationalities, ethnicities or religions are both un-American – and detrimental to the economy…especially if the ban has a chilling effect beyond just the targeted countries.  Susskind bets such concerns were not really part of developing the policy.

“They probably should have considered it more.  I can’t say that they did or they didn’t.  But when you restrict who can come in and out of our country, that definitely is going to influence and impact things.”

Susskind adds the travel business is pretty resilient, and in fact even teaches hotel and the resort operators they sometimes have to roll with it. 

“We frame it in a way:  there are things that keep you up at night if you’re an operator.  You just need to tackle them one at a time and figure out ways to make it work.  When they raise wages, you have to pay higher wages, so you find ways to make that work in your business model.  When there’s a downturn for whatever reason, whether it’s caused by Wall Street or some other factor, you find a way to work around it.  The travel ban is a reality and unless the courts reverse it, it’s just something that’s going to have to be dealt with.”

It remains to be seen if the ban survives legal challenges, and if it will impact the tourism economy.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has said his office is ready to litigate to protect New York families.