This may be a question a lot of Americans are asking this morning. Last night—or should I say early this morning—Donald Trump was named the President Elect of the United States, narrowly beating out Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton.
For nearly half the country, this is terrifying.
Many people are still in shock, not sure how to move forward. There are a number of paths to take, and one of those is to leave the U.S. Some are toying with the idea. In fact, last night, Canada’s immigration website crashed as millions searched on ways to flee. This isn’t new, as there have often been sentiments in the past to move north of the border when an unfavorable candidate has taken the White House. Some might actually do it, but for the most part it’s just words. This time, however, I think there will be an exit of many Americans who cannot stand the idea of Trump as President.
I myself did a quick Google search last night to find the best places to go now that Trump has been voted in (I think New Zealand would be my top choice from this list). For another list, check out this one from veteran journalist and travel guru, Laura Powell. There are a number of articles about how to escape the country, and I must admit, it’s a tempting thought. However, after some research—and some eye rolling from my husband—I realized it wouldn’t be an easy task to leave. Unless you’re young and have the flexibility, or you’re uber wealthy, or you happen to be a dual-citizen somewhere, moving to another country isn’t exactly a cake walk. And if you do manage to move, there are many consequences to face afterwards.
While I have determined that I will be staying put, there is another travel-related issue that worries me: What will tourism be like for Americans and visitors to the U.S. under a Trump leadership? As I was listening to the commentary last night, Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC, described the world’s reaction to our election. (Because, let’s face it, this doesn’t just affect us.)
He said people overseas see a Trump victory as catastrophic, mostly for our position as a world power. But what got me thinking was how would his presidency affect people who come to our country, and how Americans will be treated when we travel. As someone who loves to travel, as has ambitions to visit as many countries as possible, I’m nervous about the implications of this. And people in the tourism industry are as well. I think—for the most part—other countries will still be accepting of U.S. travelers, not just because we contribute to their economy, but because they want to share their cultures and traditions with us.
Trump’s run to the presidency instilled a seed of doubt in foreign travelers who want to come to the U.S. It’s not known what international tourism will look like under his administration, but his speeches and rallies were filled with anti-immigration rhetoric, mostly aimed at Muslims and Mexicans. Many in the industry think this could decrease the number of international tourists coming to the U.S. This article from the Ethical Traveler was written back in July when Trump became the Republican nominee for President, but many of the concerns remain true today. Will Muslims feel welcome in the U.S.? How will access to international tourism visas be affected? Could there be boycotts on travel to America because of Trump’s statements? Will people reconsider visiting the U.S.? All of these are important questions, and there’s speculation from a lot of people on what might happen.
You could argue that since Trump has investments in hotels around the world, he would create policies that would be favorable for international travelers. However, his whole political stance has been to increase sanctions on immigration and make it harder to enter this country. Many people from other countries are worried they won’t be able to visit relatives or friends who live in the U.S. And, Trump has said that he will roll back President Obama’s opening with Cuba unless more political freedoms are agreed to by President Raul Castro. This could hurt tourism there, which has just started to pick up more steam, with thousands of Americans hoping to visit. If nothing else, America’s image overseas will suffer with Trump as president, according to some analysts.
There’s a lot to think about as far as travel, and what will happen in America moving forward. Even though I’m scared for what’s to come, I turn to the experts in this time of uncertainty. The team at Skift said it best: “Those of us in the travel industry have to figure out how we move from here, and the biggest role we have is to fight for the right of free movement of people—ALL of us, every color, every race, every orientation—in and out of America and beyond, and the future of a connected world outside the neo-isolationist bubbles. Travel is the most progressive expression of human curiosity. It behooves us to take on more activist roles on behalf of our right to travel, and the future of travel.”
I will be fighting for this, will you?