Middle East travellers to US down 20% says Marriott boss

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Travel to the US from the Middle East has plummeted at least 20%, according to the world’s largest hotel operator.

Arne Sorenson
Arne Sorenson

Speaking to media in Dubai, Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson said President Donald Trump’s travel bans targeting Muslim nations were “not good” and had thwarted demand.

“The travel bans are not good, period,” Sorenson said at the St Regis Hotel in Al Habtoor City, Dubai.

“We do believe that travel to the United States out of the Middle East is down in excess of 20% and we think travel to the US from Mexico is down between 10-20%. And that’s not surprising; those are the markets where the political noise in the US is the most audible.”

The US has also banned the use of electronic devices such as tablets and laptops on board any flight travelling from countries including the UAE and Qatar. Citizens of six Muslim nations in the Middle East and Africa also are banned from entry into the country.

Sorenson said it was too early to make a precise assessment of the impact but he expected it to hit leisure travellers. The airlines most affected by the bans including Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, are lending laptops to Business and First class passengers/

“Our anticipation is that the travel bans are likely to have a more profound impact on discretionary travel than on business travel. Discretionary leisure travel tends to be more seasonal, it also tends to have a longer booking window, and so we’re going to need to have a few months before we really can assess how profound the impact is,” Sorenson said.

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