Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Dear Travelers Cope With Trump Travel Bans, Simply Travel Elswhere

The scary relationship between the Trump administration and Mexico, industry executives shared their feelings on what's happening with Mexico..

During the keynote panel, moderator and travel journalist James Shillinglaw asked the panel -- Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group; Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp.; Alejandro Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group; and Brian King, global officer of digital, distribution, revenue management and global sales for Marriott International -- for their opinions.

Chacko shared an anecdote about a recent trip to Mexico, when some Mexicans who normally travel to Vail and Aspen for ski vacations instead decided to travel to Vancouver. He said he felt the image the U.S. was projecting to the world wasn't one encouraging them to come to the country at the moment.

Donald, however, said he believed the rest of the world could distinguish between the people and the government.

"My experience in the world has been there are the people, and there are the governments," he said. "And most people around the world understand there are the people, and there are the governments."

He pointed out that tourists visited the Soviet Union when it was under communist rule, as they do in China today.

"In the end, people will travel, but they have to be able to travel and they can't be hassled in traveling," he said.

About 50% of Apple Leisure Group's hotels are in Mexico, Zozaya said. He outlined two concerns: The possibility of tourism to Mexico being taxed and the perception of Mexico that the Trump administration could communicate to supporters.

"Those people, a lot of them just trust him blindly, and if he makes it look like Mexico is the enemy, people will stop traveling to the enemy," he said.

"That would hurt us badly, but it would also hurt the United States," Zozaya added. "Most importantly, it would hurt the humanity and the morals and the principles of the United States."

King said travel professionals in the room in particular understand the value that travel can have in bringing together people of different cultures.

"If suddenly the perception is that one of our closest allies and neighbors for many years is quote-unquote the enemy, we have a problem in our industry," he said.

If that does happen, King suggested the industry take action by writing to legislators.

"That being said, we also have to protect our borders, but I believe in nets, not walls, right? It's about a net so make sure people have the proper visas and everything they need," he said.