"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 and tourism sector," said David Scowsill, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, during an address Tuesday at the Routes America aviation conference in Las Vegas. Following are among his comments:
"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 U.S. Travel Association, with a noted 9 percent drop in international arrivals in the period of 2001-2009. The Trump Administration is in danger of steering the country in the same direction, which could have a huge impact on the country's travel and tourism sector, which generates over 8 percent of the country's GDP and supports nearly 10 percent of total employment in the U.S.
"Airlines, hotels and travel agencies are all reporting drops in international bookings to the U.S. 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 to the administration during his speech, offering five pieces of advice for the president's advisers:
• Recognize 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. Travelers 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, more fair and less damaging.
"For the president, who has promised to create jobs and to make America great again, travel and 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. Travel and 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," Scowsill concluded.