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World travel council slams Trump ban

Jan 31 2017 11:58
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The executive order issued by US President Trump banning travel to the US from seven countries for 90 days goes directly against the fundamental right of freedom to travel, David Scowsill, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said on Tuesday.

The WTTC is the global authority on the economic and social contribution of travel and tourism. It promotes sustainable growth for the sector, working with governments and international institutions to create jobs, to drive exports and to generate prosperity.

The travel and tourism sector is regarded as a key driver for investment and economic growth globally, contributing $7.2trn or 9.8% of global gross domestic product (GDP). This is once all direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account.

The sector also accounts for 284 million jobs, 9.5% of total employment, or one in 11 of all jobs on the planet.

Scowsill said Trump's travel ban has created immense confusion among travellers and travel companies worldwide.

He added that the WTTC believes all people have the right to cross international borders safely and efficiently for business and tourism purposes. The blanket suspension of admittance of travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen to the US flies against this principle.

READ: Trump travel ban sparks dollar weakness

"Suspending travel based only on a person’s nationality or their origin is wrong," emphasised Scowsill.

"Many travellers have been unnecessarily disrupted, due to the unclear nature of the executive order, coupled with a lack of prior consultation and poor communication to airlines and border officials."

In Scowsill's view, if this move by the Trump administration is designed to "prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals", it is important to point out that the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the recent past have been perpetrated by home grown, radicalised nationals of the country involved.

"None of the shocking domestic incidents in the US since 2001 have been attributed to external terrorists who have specifically flown into the country to commit an atrocity. Preventing ‘aliens’ from entering the US for legitimate business or leisure purposes is misguided and counter-productive for the American economy," said Scowsill.

"Travel and tourism bridges gaps between cultures and fosters understanding across religious and geographic boundaries, and generates more peaceful co-existence. Our sector is responsible for the livelihoods of millions worldwide. The US has suffered in the past from similar isolationist policies. We urge the Trump administration to reconsider this ban.”

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