by Loren G. Edelstein | March 03, 2017
The American travel community is urging the Trump administration to include in its revised executive order on visas and immigration -- expected in the coming days -- language making clear that the U.S. welcomes and values legitimate international business and leisure travelers.
The plea comes amid mounting signs that President Trump's initial order, which imposed restrictions on visitors from certain high-risk countries and pledged a security review of overall visa procedures, has had a broad chilling effect on demand for international travel to the United States.
U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow believes many international travelers might have drastically misunderstood Trump's intentions as aiming to discourage international visitors generally, not just those who pose a security risk.
"Security is a top priority for the U.S. travel community, but it's critical to balance both sides of the ledger: Make clear who is not welcome, but also who remains welcome," Dow said in a statement issued yesterday. "Not doing so would be to double-down on doubts, discontent and division that risk significant economic harm."
Dow noted that inbound international travel is the No. 1 U.S. services export, and No. 3 export overall; without the exports represented by travel, the U.S. trade deficit would have been 18 percent higher in 2015. He further pointed out that travel supports 15.1 million unexportable domestic jobs and is a top-10 employer in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
"International travel is integral to the president's stated economic priorities of correcting the U.S. trade imbalance and protecting jobs here at home," Dow said. "As a businessman and hospitality entrepreneur, it is safe to say he never intended to discourage legitimate travelers from coming to the U.S. As president, he seems to be catching his stride in terms of communicating the true vision and intent of his policies, and he has a golden opportunity to address some unintended consequences of his initial travel order when he reissues it in the coming days. Neither he, nor the U.S. economy, can afford to squander it."