How Trump's Travel Ban Is Affecting Honeymoons

Both real people and the travel industry are taking hits

Updated 08/09/17
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Elizabeth Cooney

At Brides, we believe it is important to talk about both the wonderful and difficult aspects that come with marriage in the United States. In a new series, we explore the ways in which President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban affects our notions of family. From issues with parents attending weddings to the impact on childbirth, here we’ll talk about real lives being affected by the executive order.

Trump’s travel ban, which targets visitors from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, as well as refugees, has caused chaos and trauma for many Americans. It has been instated, challenged, halted, and changed—leaving people unsure where they stand in terms of coming and going from the United States. Families have been separated and weddings have been railroaded. And one of the biggest travel events in many people’s lives—their honeymoon—have been particularly affected by the ban, in far more widespread terms than might be apparent.

The wedding registry site Honeyfund surveyed 400 couples and found that 18% of them had altered their honeymoon plans because of the ban. That’s almost one in five. “We were very surprised that nearly 20% of the responding couples reported that the Trump travel ban would impact their wedding or honeymoon plans and/or budget,” Sara Margulis, chief executive and co-founder of Honeyfund, tells Brides. “The most common reasons couples shared had to do with family that lives out of the country possibly not being able to travel in for the wedding, international sentiment about Americans in general, or one or both of the couple themselves concerned about getting back in if they traveled internationally on their honeymoon.”

It’s horrific to think that people have to alter or cancel what should be an exciting and celebratory trip. And yet, the ban has wreaked havoc on those trying to leave—and enter—the United States for their honeymoons.

American Couples Wanting To Go Abroad

As Margulis mentioned, there is a fear among some Americans that they won’t be allowed back into the country if they go abroad. While normally 40% of Americans go abroad on their honeymoon—to the tune of $12 billion a year—the ban threatens to change that. People are cancelling or re-routing their honeymoons to make sure they are not affected by the ban.

Brande Victorian writes in Madame Noire (a site geared towards African American women), about a friend whose honeymoon plans were stalled by the ban: “In fact, plans for her honeymoon trip to Italy this year have been put on hold until she receives her citizenship, which is currently in the hands of our government and slowly progressing,” Victorian writes. “What happened...may be labeled a Muslim ban, but its consequences reach far beyond those our government wants to keep out to ensure greater security on our soil, so much so that all of our safety has been put in jeopardy in the United States and beyond.” Because people with residency permits have been detained due to the ban, even those holding American passports are still confused about what will happen if they leave the country.

Foreign Couples Honeymooning In the U.S.

The issue of leaving the country may be confusing—but for those trying to visit the United States, the situation is just as unclear. There is a fear that Trump’s ban reflects an attitude of hostility, sending the message that visitors are not welcome in the US (especially Muslim visitors) and that tourism will take a hit because people are less likely to visit. But it goes further than that. It’s not just symbolic—real people are having their travel plans (and honeymoons) ruined because of the ban.

Natasha Politakis, 29, and Ali Gul, 32, a British couple, had spent over $9,000 on a honeymoon set to take place in Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Las Vegas. Instead, they ended up being held at Los Angeles International Airport for over a day, handcuffed, and marched onto a plane back to London. They weren’t given an explanation for their treatment, but they suspect it was due to Gul’s Turkish Muslim heritage. “As far as we knew before we left everything was fine, but as soon as we got there they wouldn’t let us in,” they told The Sun. “We believe since Trump was elected, they took one look at his name, thought he was Muslim and didn’t let him in.”

There have been many disturbing aspects of the ban. The attempts to redefine family, the separation of loved ones—and it’s perhaps no surprise that honeymoons, a travel-based activity, would face some of the most dramatic upheaval. But just to put this in perspective, while Trump boasts his commitment to bringing the US economy back to its “former” glory, as of 2014, the tourism industry (which includes people traveling for honeymoons) injects $2.1 trillion in economic output by domestic and international travelers to the US, $141.5 billion in tax revenue is generated by travel spending for federal, state, and local governments, and international travel spending directly supported about 1.1 million U.S. jobs and $29.2 billion in wages. With that in mind, one study forecasts a $10.6-million decline in visitors this year and next. The near 7% drop will cost the U.S. economy more than $18 billion and about 107,000 jobs.

While the travel ban presents a heartbreaking and chaotic problem for honeymooners both domestic and foreign, there are larger implications at play when it comes to Trump’s overall message of “making America great again.” We’d argue that (aside from the moral questionability), pommeling the tourism industry is a step in the wrong direction.

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