Trade bodies line up to condemn Trump travel ban

Global travel organisations have condemned the US ban on nationals from seven Middle East countries amid confusion among travellers and trade, chaos at US airports and worldwide protests.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) called President Trump’s 90-day ban “wrong” and “misguided” and urged the US administration “to reconsider”.

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) expressed “deep concern and strong condemnation”, while the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) said it “fundamentally opposed any form of blanket travel ban” based on nationality.

President Trump imposed the travel ban on nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria  and Yemen through an executive order last Friday.

UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said: “The travel ban…is contrary to the principles of freedom of travel. Blind discriminatory actions will not lead to increased security but to growing tensions and threats.”

Pata chief executive Mario Hardy warned the US action “may tarnish the image of the country”. He added: “Governments must build bridges, not walls.”

WTTC president David Scowsill said: “The order goes against the fundamental right of freedom to travel. Suspending travel based only on a person’s nationality or their origin is wrong.” He also hit out at “the unclear nature of the order, lack of consultation, and poor communication to airlines and border officials”.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (Acte) said the US travel ban “spread fear and uncertainty”. A survey of 260 members found 39% believed it could “reduce corporate travel”.

Acte executive director Greely Koch said: “People with bona fide visas should not be subject to fear, delays or harassment.”

Other industry organisations appeared reluctant to speak out. Abta called for “clarity” and that future changes be clearly communicated.

Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson said Trump’s order “breaks with international law”. He tweeted: “We stand together in valuing an open and diverse society.”

Responsible Travel chief executive Justin Francis denounced the ban as “appalling” and said: “It’s so important for people working in travel. We bring people of different cultures together. I’m inundated with responses from operators asking what they can do.”

Intrepid Travel managing director James Thornton said: “This isn’t something we can sit and watch in silence.”

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