CNN reports that a federal judge has issued a longer-term preliminary injunction against the revised travel ban at the request of the state of Hawaii, blocking the ban indefinitely while the legal battle over the policy plays out. Hawaii had won a temporary block on the order two weeks ago after the state was the first to file a lawsuit against it, arguing that the ban was discriminatory against Muslims and that the executive order would harm the state’s tourism industry.
The ruling comes just as the U.S. Travel Association brought more than 325 travel industry representatives to Capitol Hill, conducting more than 300 congressional meetings in an effort to urge Congress to “Welcome Legit Travelers” – a slogan emblazoned on custom mousepads designed in the style of a welcome mat gifted to members of Congress.
In a statement announcing the legislative day the U.S. Travel Association said that the move was in response to a number of new regulations regarding travel, including the travel ban, tough new visa vetting practices and a new ban on large electronic devices in the cabin of flights from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa. U.S. Travel said that the travel industry is encouraging policy makers to mitigate the unintended consequences of these policies with steps to bolster international travel, including preserving Open Skies aviation agreements and supporting Brand USA.
"The travel industry supports efforts to secure travel, but recent policy changes require extra effort to facilitate travel for legitimate international visitors,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “This year's 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. As I have said before, and will continue to say, security and travel facilitation are not, and cannot be mutually exclusive. International inbound travel is our nation's second-largest export, and millions of American jobs depend upon striking the correct balance. We hope these souvenirs will serve as a reminder of that fact to lawmakers as they craft travel and visa legislation going forward."
Meanwhile, major travel industry organizations continue to take stock of the impact of the new policies on both inbound and outbound travel.
Virtuoso just released a survey of its luxury-selling travel agents that found that only 10 percent of Virtuoso agents say clients are changing travel plans due to concerns over anti-American sentiment resulting from the travel ban. The effect on inbound travel was more pronounced: 42 percent of Virtuoso-affiliated travel advisors outside of the U.S. say their clients are avoiding travel to the United States due to factors including opposition to the country’s foreign policy and concerns over obtaining visas. As an alternative, they are electing to travel to destinations such as Italy, Australia and the UK. The majority of advisors anticipate the slowdown in travel to the U.S. will last three to six months, Virtuoso said.
Another study by black car service GroundLink found similar results. In a survey of 400 travelers by GroundLink, 87 percent of respondents said that they won’t change their travel plans as a result of the current travel ban situation. Seven percent of respondents said they would avoid traveling internationally altogether, while six percent will continue to travel internationally for business but avoid traveling out of the country for leisure.