More than 300 professionals, managers and executives from all parts of the U.S. travel and tourism industry came to Washington, D.C. last week for “Destination Capitol Hill” and, led by the U.S. Travel Association, held more than 300 meetings with U.S. Senators, Representatives and their staffs in the annual “lobby-in” that had a special message this year: “Welcome Legit Travelers.”
The slogan is designed to emphasize US Travel’s mission—the main part of it is to promote and facilitate travel to the U.S. from abroad—midst concerns that a U.S. government focus on traveler security and keeping potential terrorists from entering the United States will discourage international travel to America.
To illustrate the message, travel and tourism industry visitors to Capitol Hill distributed custom “Welcome Legit Travelers” mouse pads to lawmakers that, US Travel said, emphasized “security is key, but it must be balanced with strong messages of welcome to legitimate international business and leisure travelers.”
“In the wake of executive orders on travel and immigration,” the statement added, “tough new visa vetting practices and the introduction of an electronic devices ban on some Middle East-based flights to the U.S., the travel industry has mobilized around the need for balanced communication and travel facilitation in addition to strengthened security.”
The statement added, “The travel community is encouraging policymakers to mitigate the possible unintended fallout of aggressive security steps with policies that bolster international travel–for example, preserving Open Skies aviation agreements and supporting Brand USA.”
Roger Dow, president and CEO of US Travel, explained that the travel industry “supports efforts to secure travel, but recent policy changes require extra effort to facilitate travel for legitimate international visitors,” and noting that the record attendance at Destination Capitol Hill demonstrates our industry’s passion and dedication to keeping the U.S. an attractive, welcoming place for people to visit and invest.”
“Security and travel facilitation are not, and cannot be mutually exclusive,” stressed Dow, who has said in a number of statements that the USA is “closed to terror” but “open for business.”