Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2018

Cautious Response to Revised Travel Ban

Major meetings, travel and tourism organizations struck a cautious note in response to President Trump’s revised executive order on immigration and refugees, issued on March 6.

The new ban, which goes into effect March 16, no longer restricts travel from Iraq, one of seven countries listed in the original order, which was issued January but subsequently blocked by a federal appeals court. In the revised order, the 90-day ban pertains only to Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. As before, the order curtails the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, but Syrians are no longer subject to an indefinite ban.

Other changes: travelers from the affected countries who are legal permanent residents of the United States, dual nationals who use a passport from another country, and those who have been granted asylum or refugee status are exempt from the new order. Current visa holders will be able to get into the country, although those whose visas expire will have to reapply.

“The Trump administration deserves some credit for the substantially more cautious and deliberate introduction of the revised executive order. U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow’s statement said in part: “Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the administration fully seized the opportunity to differentiate between the potential security risks targeted by the order and the legitimate business and leisure visitors from abroad who support 15.1 million American jobs.”

The Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC) said “several of the industry’s initial concerns remain unaddressed. …We reiterate our belief that striking the right balance between enhanced security and travel facilitation is of the utmost importance. We also continue to urge that the executive orders be concluded as quickly as possible.”

A MMBC survey conducted shortly after the original ban was implemented found that the majority of meetings industry professionals were concerned the order would harm the reputation of the United States.

Citing its narrower scope and greater clarity, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) called the new ban an improvement, but warned against unnecessary disruptions to the travel industry. A GBTA poll conducted after the revised order was issued (based on 145 responses from U.S. and European members) found that 38 per cent of European business travel professionals said their company would be less willing to send business travelers to the U.S. because of the executive order, while 45 per cent said their company would be less willing to plan future meetings and events in the U.S.

Legal experts say the new order addresses some of the constitutional concerns that that the original order raised in a federal appeals court, but still leaves room for more legal challenges. In fact, the state of Hawaii last week filed the first legal challenge to the new order, revising its initial lawsuit against the original ban.

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