“The United States is in danger of taking the same path it took after the 9/11 terror attacks, which led to a decade of economic stagnation in the Travel & Tourism sector”, were the powerful warning words from David Scowsill, president and chief executive officer, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), while speaking at the Routes Americas air service development forum in Las Vegas.
Taking to the stage to present at the event’s Strategy Summit, Scowsill warned that Trump's policies could have a huge impact on the country’s Travel & Tourism sector, which generates over eight per cent of the country’s GDP and supports nearly ten per cent of total employment in the US.
“The Trump Administration is in danger of steering the country in the same direction as after 9/11. Strict visa policies and inward-looking sentiment led to a $600 billion loss in tourism revenues in the decade post 9/11, as previously reported by the US Travel Association, with a noted nine per cent drop in international arrivals in the period of 2001 – 2009," he explained.
Airlines, hotels and travel agencies are all reporting drops in international bookings to the US, following the Executive Order banning visitors from seven countries to enter the country. This is the unintended consequence of the ban announcement, with business and leisure customers from around the world holding back on their travel plans.
Scowsill spoke directly at the Administration during his speech, offering five pieces of advice to the President’s advisors:
- Recognise that travel is a key generator of American jobs and economic growth.
- Keep tourism out of politics. Blanket bans on citizens from specific countries will not make the American people safer.
- Remember the decade of lost economic growth. Travellers have a choice and they will go elsewhere.
- Use the technology available to share information. That will ensure that only the right people arrive at borders in the first place.
- Consult with the industry in advance of change. This will make the implementation of policies more orderly, fairer and less damaging.
“For the President who has promised to create jobs and to make America great again, Travel & Tourism seems the most obvious answer. After all, the livelihood of millions of Americans depends on people being able to use planes, trains and automobiles to spend their tourist dollars,” he said.
“Travel & Tourism thrives by breaking down barriers, not building them; by making it easier for people to travel, not applying blanket bans. Our sector bridges divides between cultures, fosters understanding across religious and geographic boundaries. It is a massive generator of jobs and economic growth.” he added.