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February 6, 2017

GBTA: Nearly Half of Europe Members Say Trump Ban Will Disrupt Travel

Photo by Rex Wholster/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Big news for the meetings indsutry: The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has released a new poll on the impact of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from seven countries as the legal fight over the new policy continues. 

In a post on the GBTA blog, the GBTA reports that nearly half (49 percent) of its European travel agent members expect the ban to cause a reduction in their company’s business travel over the next three months. The report is a follow-up to last week’s poll of the GBTA’s U.S. members, in which 30 percent of companies said they expected to see a reduction in travel. Over the next three to six months, 46 percent of respondents to the European poll said they expected the ban to negatively impact their company’s business travel compared to 29 percent of respondents to the U.S. survey. 

In the long term, 33 percent of GBTA members in Europe expect a reduction in business travel over the next six to 12 months, as opposed to 28 percent in the U.S. 38 percent of respondents said that their companies have issued directives to cancel or delay travel of employees who are nationals of countries included in the ban, and 53 percent of respondents said that their organization has employees traveling abroad who either might be or are affected by the ban. 

Legal Fight Continues

The legal fight over the travel ban is set to continue this week, with lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota filing briefs with a federal appeals court early Monday arguing that restoring the ban would “unleash chaos again,” The Chicago Tribune reports. The court ordered the U.S. Justice Department to file its briefs on the case by 6 p.m. Eastern time Monday. 

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had upheld a lower court’s order to temporarily halt the ban. Early Monday, former secretaries of state John F. Kerry and Madeline Albright, as well as former CIA director and defense secretary Leon Panetta, had filed briefs with the court arguing that the order would undermine national security. A number of technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter and Uber, had filed friend of the court briefs calling the policy a “significant departure” from U.S. immigration policy. On NBC’sMeet the Press” on Sunday, Vice President Pence had said that the order was within the president’s legal and constitutional authority. 

Meetings Industry Response

The policy has prompted a number of meeting and events industry organizations to weigh in. 

“International exhibitions rely on the free exchange of goods and ideas, and on business people from all around the world having access to these unique market places,” said Dr. Andreas Gruchow, president of UFI, said in a recent statement. “Most leading exhibition markets aim to become ever more international to serve these needs, and to grow as businesses. As countless impact studies show, this growth hugely benefits local, regional and national economies, who benefit from the direct business that exhibitors and attendees bring to town. Exhibitions are not only good businesses - they are also an enormous catalyst for economic growth.”

“As the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, UFI is always promoting free exchange of ideas and travel for mutual benefit,” said Dr. Gruchow. “As an industry, we are representing billions of USD in direct and indirect economic investments. We call upon associations and businesses in our industry to also make their voices heard on this matter, and we stand ready to support them through activities like ‘Global Exhibitions Day’ on June 7.”

“The global exhibitions industry contributes more than $200 billion to world economies, with roughly $77 billion contributed to the U.S. GDP annually,” said Ryan Strowger, CEM, chair of IAEE and SVP of exhibitions, conferences and sales with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). “Furthermore, more than 42 million visitors attend 9,400+ business-to-business exhibitions and events in the U.S. alone and IAEE members and stakeholders are rightfully concerned about the long-term ramifications of restrictions placed on global travelers coming to the U.S.”

Choice Hotels recently released a statement saying that, while the company supports efforts to ensure the safety and security of the United States, it is urging the administration to find a balanced approach that promotes travel. 

“More specifically, we ask the administration to welcome international visitors and immigrants who travel to our country to enjoy our sights and landmarks, conduct business, visit family, and to live and work, while providing appropriate travel security solutions that protect all Americans,” Choice Hotels said in a written release. “In the meantime, Choice Hotels will be waiving all cancellation fees for travelers who are from the regions impacted by the recent executive order.”

Shorty after the ban was announced, David Scowsill, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said that the order "goes directly against the fundamental right of Freedom to Travel. It has created immense confusion among travelers and travel companies worldwide.”

“If this move by the Trump Administration is designed to ‘prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals’, it is important to point out that the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the recent past have been perpetrated by home grown, radicalized nationals of the country involved,” said Scowsill. “None of the shocking domestic incidents in the U.S. since 2001 have been attributed to external terrorists who have specifically flown into the country to commit an atrocity. Preventing ‘aliens’ from entering the U.S. for legitimate business or leisure purposes is misguided and counter-productive for the American economy.”

In an interview last week with The Hill, the Jonathan Grella, executive vice president of public affairs for the U.S. Travel Association, said that, while the initial impact of the policy could be limited, the long-term message could have a negative impact. 

“In this case, it’s a limited universe of people directly affected, but carries with it not inconsequential fall-out potential when it comes to reputational risk and sending an unintended message,” Grella told The Hill, noting that the seven countries affected by the ban are not in the top 20 travel markets to the United States. “People will be understanding and forgiving when security is your motivation, but if they are left with other takeaways that leave the impression that they’re not welcome here, than that’s obviously a different story.”

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