Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago trips 'set to put firm out of business'

Billionaire tycoon repeatedly criticised Barack Obama for his travel costs but is spending at 10 times the rate

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The Independent US

Donald Trump's near-weekly visits to his Mar-a-Lago resort are set to bankrupt a local small business, the firm's owner has said.

Jorge Gonzalez  says a 10-mile no-fly zone surrounding the President means his sky-writing ad company, Skywords Advertising, cannot fly the aircraft while the leader is staying at his Florida base.

"Every weekend he's here we have to shut down, and right now that's every weekend," he told the BBC.

Mr Gonzalez claims he has lost about $65,000 since Mr Trump became president, as the billionaire tycoon has paid seven weekend visits to the private members' club across his first 10 weeks in office.

Trump 'feels great' about Mar-a-Lago trips

"About 97% of my business occurs on the weekends, and I make 80% of my revenue between January and May," Mr Gonzalez said. "We were told to expect him to come once a month. We never imagined it would be every weekend.

"At this rate we might survive through the summer, but I don't see the company lasting much beyond that."

Mr Trump's frequent vacations have also caused significant financial losses to flight schools and businesses based at nearby Lantana Airport, whose 200 employees in a range of small businesses receive no pay for the duration of their visits.

The President is known to refer to Mar-a-Lago as his "Southern White House", hosting visitors such as Chinese President Xi Jinping in the luxury resort instead of the White House itself or the traditional Presidential retreat, Camp David.

But Mar-a-Lago is a waterfront, terraced resort, not a naval base like Camp David, and the increased security costs occasioned by Mr Trump's frequent visits to Florida have cost around $23 million.

He is on course to spend more on travel in a single year than the $97 million Barack Obama spent during his eight years in office, racking up travel bills at roughly 10 times the rate of his predecessor.

Mr Trump often castigated Mr Obama for his travel spending during his presidency, forcing Press Secretary Sean Spicer to defend the new leader's far greater expenditure as "just part of being President".

Membership at Mar-a-Lago currently costs $200,000, while guests must pay up to $2000 a night for a room. At least three of the club's 500 members are being considered for ambassadorships by President Trump.

The business turns over about $30 million annually, with Mr Trump reportedly pocketing around $15 million a year from membership fees and private rentals.

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