by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | August 01, 2015
Fallout from presidential contender Donald Trump's statements about Mexican immigrants -- which prompted organizations including NBC and Macy's to sever ties with him -- has spilled over into the hospitality industry. Among groups to shun Trump's hotels was high-profile NASCAR, which pulled its postseason awards ceremony from the Trump National Doral Miami.

In another blow, renowned chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian abandoned plans to open restaurants in the 260-room Trump Hotel Washington, D.C., now under construction and expected to open in 2016. "More than half my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests," said Andres, a recently naturalized American citizen himself.

Trump's team quickly threatened to take legal action to recover all monies owed under the reneged deals. A sharp rebuke was aimed at Zakarian, who reportedly had put up a $490,167 deposit to guarantee the lease for his restaurant, The National. "Zacharian's foolish decision will be his loss and will have no effect on the completion and success of this project," the company said in a statement to Eater DC, an online foodie publication.

Margaret Gonzalez, founder, president and CEO of the International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals, said Trump's remarks -- including his insistance that the Mexican government is forcing criminals, drug dealers and rapists into the United States -- could impact business travel to the U.S. from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.

"People will think twice about visiting our country if they think Trump speaks for the American people," she said. "Some of our members are hotel owners and leaders in Mexico's hotel association, and I can tell you they are not happy with his remarks."

Robert Schron, owner of New York City-based meeting planning firm Robert P. Schron Associates, said his company will not consider placing group business in any Trump Hotel Collection property. "His attack and accusations have probably hurt our relations with potential clients, particularly those from overseas," he said. Schron believes that the major meetings industry associations, including Meeting Professionals International and the Professional Convention Management Association, should speak up on the matter. (As of press time, neither had issued statements.)

On July 9, a demonstration organized by several elected officials from the District of Columbia was held at the site of the $200 million Trump Hotel Washington, D.C., where many Latin America construction workers are employed. The event drew several hundred protesters. According to an investigative report by the Washington Post, the site employs dozens of undocumented workers.