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EACC Network Survey Results: The Impact of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

We’re now seeing reports that the U.S. Administration is finally taking action to ease restrictions on travelers from Europe beginning in November – and for EACC member companies the steps can’t come soon enough. The EACC had heard many anecdotes about the impact of the restrictions on both sides of the Atlantic, and so we revived our network-wide survey tool to get a more systematic perspective on the issue.
This survey was conducted the week of September 13 and elicited 132 responses. 38.6 percent of respondents characterized themselves as professional services firms and 21.2 percent as manufacturers. 9.1 percent said they were in financial services with the remainder as Transportation/Logistics, Education, Travel/Hospitality and Other.
The first question asked if the travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. on travelers from the Schengen Area and other European Countries “impacted your company/organization/operations”.  Nearly 90 percent of respondents said the restrictions had had an impact, with just under three quarters saying the impact had been ‘noticable’ or ‘significant.’ Indeed, 47 percent said the impact had been ‘significant,’ underscoring how important this challenge is to businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.
Which leads to our next question – “On which side of the Atlantic have the travel restrictions most impacted your operations?” Over 40 percent responded “U.S. Operations” with a further 36.4 percent saying “both U.S. and European Operations.” Only 9.1 percent said the impact was being felt primarily on the European side.
The impact on talent planning has been mixed. When asked if the travel restrictions have impacted the organization's personnel planning, 41.7 percent of respondents said there had been no impact, but 39.4% said they had been forced to postpone expansion plans – and of course that comes at a real economic cost.
And when it comes to assessing costs, the most important question is whether firms are losing business – and the answer is a resounding yes.  Only 15.2 percent of respondents said “No, not at all” when asked if the travel restrictions had caused them to lose customers or business; two thirds said there had been at least negligible impact and 42.4 said the impact had been ‘noticeable’ or ‘significant.’
We also asked firms to detail the impact on their operations and received numerous responses like these:
  • We had to postpone the company expansion [including major capital outlays]
  • Recruiting/hiring has been slower due to executive travel limitations.
  • The employees in our…office have not been able to visit their loved ones back home (which impacts their well-being and…thus also our business)
  • It’s harder to create some type of relationship with our customers
It’s clear why governments acted quickly to curtail travel early last year to slow the spread of the Pandemic. And now, as our understanding of the Coronavirus (and how to combat it with vaccinations, masking and other measures) continues to grow, it is important we loosen those restrictions to support both our physical and economic health.

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