The nation is nervously awaiting a series of decisions by the Trump administration, on matters of broad, national importance, like eliminating health insurance for more than 22 million people. But Trump will also be asked to make four other decisions bearing on travel matters—and those are appropriate subjects for this blog on travel.
Decision Number One—Whether to permit our travelers to continue visiting Cuba. Throughout the campaign, Trump used strong language to criticize the decision of President Obama to open up Cuba to visits by Americans. Since it is probably within the power of the President to set that policy, we may very well discover that the doors will now be shut to such tourism.
I want to express strong disagreement with that probable decision by Trump. The fifty-year embargo against travel to Cuba has been totally ineffective if not disastrous. It has undoubtedly done more to strengthen the Castro regime than to weaken it.
And I further believe that we, as freeborn Americans, have the constitutional right, in peacetime, to travel wherever we wish, to observe foreign countries directly and through our own senses, and thus to form our own opinions about the validity of our nation’s foreign policies. (Founding-father James Madison more or less said the same some two hundred years ago.) With numerous airlines and cruise lines already bringing us to Cuba, or planning to do so imminently, we should vigorously protest against any reversal of the regulations permitting travel to Cuba.
Decision Number Two—Whether to reverse the decision of the Department of Transportation to permit a budget-priced carrier—Norwegian Air—to operate cheap flights between the United States and Europe. One hundred Republican members of the House of Representatives have signed a petition and delivered it to Trump, asking him to reverse the Department of Transportation’s decision (a petition obviously written and promoted by the four major U.S. airlines, falsely claiming that Norwegian Air will use substandard pilots and safety violations to reduce flight expenses). Let’s hope that these large U.S. carriers, seeking to protect their own inflated profits, are thwarted in their effort to prevent transatlantic flights from becoming as cheap as trans-continental flights.
Decision Number Three—Whether to permit the States to legalize the sale and use of marijuana and marijuana tourism. Several such States—including Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts—have already legalized such sale and use; but strangely enough, the Federal Law continues to prohibit it. Numerous advocates of the recreational drug (a major source of tourism bringing much-needed income to those States) have feared that an avenging Attorney General might set off a massive legal battle by suing to invalidate these local laws. And Trump’s designee as Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the 3rd, is a fierce opponent of marijuana’s use. Only the President can stop him from starting such an unnecessary battle.
Decision Number Four—Whether to engage in a trade war with China, gravely injuring the U.S. tourism industry, among others. In the campaign, Trump threatened to impose protectionist measures against trade with China, and he has now named a well-known protectionist as his chief trade adviser. In particular, Trump has suggested imposing a 45% tariff on goods made in China and shipped to the United States.
Numerous economists have predicted that such a move could lead to a severe recession or depression, and that the Chinese would instantly retaliate by canceling orders for dozens of Boeing’s aircraft, causing a loss of as many as 30,000 jobs; the Chinese could also sell off the many billions of dollars of U.S. treasury bonds it owns, which would cause a sharp increase in U.S. interest rates.
More directly affecting our travel industry, it is widely felt that such measures would cause the Chinese to prohibit the large current movement of Chinese tourists to the United States, blocking millions of such tourists per year and resulting in a loss by our tourist industry of many billions of dollars of income (and millions of jobs). One would hope that Trump would re-consider such a tariff move.
All in all, decisions by Trump will have a major impact on the U.S. travel industry.