Several major tourism bodies, including the UNWTO, have expressed their concern over the travel restrictions recently implemented by the US government.
The Trump Administration has placed a moratorium on visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries, triggering confusion at US airports and protests around world.
The United Nations’ global tourism body, the UNWTO, said that travel bans based on nationality are “contrary to the principles of freedom of travel”. And perhaps referring to another of President Trump’s controversial policies, the organisation’s secretary-general, Taleb Rifai, warned against building walls.
“Global challenges demand global solutions and the security challenges that we face today should not prompt us to build new walls; on the contrary, isolationism and blind discriminatory actions will not lead to increased security but rather to growing tensions and threats,” Rifai said.
He added that the imposition of travel bans could also damage the US tourism industry.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WWTTC) was more blunt in its assessment, saying that “suspending travel based only on a person’s nationality or their origin is wrong”.
“Preventing ‘aliens’ from entering the US for legitimate business or leisure purposes is misguided and counter-productive for the American economy,” said WTTC president & CEO, David Scowsill. “The US has suffered in the past from similar isolationist policies. We urge the Trump Administration to reconsider this ban.”
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), which covers the US, said that while it recognises the right of every country to secure its own borders, it is also “fundamentally opposed to any form of blanket travel ban based upon nationality, gender, race or religion”.
“Safety is the number one priority for the travel and tourism industry and this may only be addressed effectively through the concerted efforts of the world’s governments and international community working together,” said PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy.
An executive order issued by President Trump on 27 January prevents the citizens of seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen – from entering the US for a period of 90 days.