PHOTO: WTTC president and CEO David Scowsill offered advice to the Trump Administration in Las Vegas. (Photo via Flickr/World Travel & Tourism Council)
Speaking at the Routes Americas aviation conference in Las Vegas earlier this week, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) President and CEO David Scowsill warned that "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," according to a news release summarizing his speech.
Scowsill's appearance at the event's Strategy Summit Tuesday came less than one month after President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
The controversial travel ban was reversed by a federal judge earlier this month and has since been suspended by a federal appeals court. Nonetheless, the ban has already had an impact on travel, with airlines, hotels and travel agencies reporting a decline in international bookings to the U.S.
Citing figures from the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), Scowsill recalled that "strict visa policies and inward-looking sentiment" in the decade after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led to a $600 billion loss in tourism revenues and a 9 percent drop in international arrivals between 2001 to 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.," warned Scowsill.
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Scowsill encouraged the Trump Administration to keep tourism out of politics, warning that travelers have a choice and will choose to go elsewhere, which ultimately cripples economic growth here in the U.S.
He also recommended the White House utilize the technology available to them to share information and consult with the tourism industry ahead of time to implement more effective policies with fewer problems.
"Travel and tourism thrives by breaking down barriers, not building them; by making it easier for people to travel, not applying blanket bans," added Scowsill. "Our sector bridges divides between cultures, fosters understanding across religious and geographic boundaries. It is a massive generator of jobs and economic growth."
Trump has said he's considering putting forward a revised executive order in the near future, but it remains to be seen whether the president will heed the WTTC's advice.