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27 Sep 2016

BY Edward Robertson

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US Travel Association to lobby government 'if Trump elected'

The US Travel Association is preparing to lobby its government hard should Trump win the upcoming presidency.

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US Travel Association will lobby government 'if Trump elected'

The Republican candidate has made a number of controversial statements, from banning Muslims from entering the US to building a wall along the border with Mexico.

 

However, while refusing to say the word ’Trump’, US Travel Association senior director of domestic policy Erik Hansen said they would continue to work hard to ensure the destination remains open for business.

 

Speaking at a World Routes 2016 Tourism Summit panel session addressing tourism in Chengdu, China, he added: “I’m not going to name names but there is a presidential candidate that is talking about building walls or keeping people out. That’s not going to happen.

 

“We’ve got to always be on the look out for that type of negative reaction. It is a real threat. Our job is to lobby Congress, our job is to lobby the industry. We need to help policy makers understand the realities (of the situation).

 

“We’re going to make sure government puts in smart policies and we’ll help them.”

 

He said in particular the government needs to preserve the visa waiver programme which remains secure, adding: “Everything we do is built on security. I don’t think policy makers truly grasp that.”

 

World Travel & Tourism Council president and chief executive David Scowsill argued countries can go even further than simply employing visa waiver systems and instead focus on digitalising the visa process on arrival.

 

He said 61% of the 1.2 billion global travellers are still required to “fill out a paper form, stand in line and get a stamp”.

 

Scowsill added just as the industry no longer uses paper air ticketing, so it should abandon this practice too. In doing so, he said countries could improve their customer focus, get better security against terrorists.

 

He also urged governments not to "overreact" to terrorist attacks by threatening to stop visa waiver programmes, as the US recently did.

 

CBN Travel & MICE and World Travel Online chief executive Dr Adam Wu agreed the visa waiver programme was important, citing China’s own experience after introducing it to 35 countries and seeing a resultant growth.

 

He also said a new initiative to introduce a 72-hour transit visa for Shanghai and Beijing was already beginning to bear fruit.

 

Wu added: “It is a matter of control… a conflict between the tourism promotion authority and the security ministry to make sure undesirables aren’t coming in. It is a challenge but moving in the right direction.”

 

He also said visa waiver programmes were also an excellent way of attracting the Chinese market, citing the example of Morocco which has seen an increase in visitor numbers following its recent decision to make the change.

 

Jamaica minister of tourism Edmund Bartlett said most Caribbean countries also employed minimal visa restrictions and had reaped the benefits of increased visitor numbers as a result.

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