There is growing concern in the US industry at the impact of a new Washington administration on travel to the US.
The opening day of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) summit in Dallas yesterday was dominated by security.
Marriott International president and chief executive Arne Sorenson spoke of “perhaps the greatest threat to international travel” saying: “Paris and Brussels have given rise to an emotion to lock doors.
“We have a candidate for president in the US who wants to build a wall.”
Hilton Worldwide president and chief executive Chris Nassetta agreed, saying: “Fear mongering is being used during the political season to tap into political anger.”
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has declared he will refuse entry to the US to Muslims and wall-off the border with Mexico if elected.
Most platform speakers at the WTTC summit declined to identify Trump by name, but many expressed concern at the forthcoming change of administration with the presidential election due in November.
Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said: “There is a risk that, with the change in administration and with the threats to security, there will be an over reaction.”
He said: “It is much easier to convey a message of fear than of hope. It is important we don’t kid ourselves about where we are.”
US Travel Association president and chief executive Roger Dow said: “Rhetoric can really hurt our industry and hurt our economy.
“We need the next administration to understand the contribution this industry makes.”
Dow added: “When Barack Obama came to the the presidency he did not really understand travel and tourism, but we sat with him and he began to understand and said ‘We’re going to grow travel and tourism’.”
Sean Donohue, chief executive of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, told the summit: “Everyone understands the important of safety and security, but we need a balanced view.”
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