The US meetings industry lobby has reacted with an official statement and information for members following last week’s US presidential executive order on immigration and refugees. The order had left many with questions on how it could potentially impact meetings and events, for both North American programmes that have attendees from outside of North America and global programmes with North American attendees.
The Meetings Means Business Coalition offered the following update and information:
“In light of the executive order on immigration and refugees, Meetings Mean Business (MMB) has convened coalition leadership to ensure a united response from our industry. We are working closely with the US Travel Association to monitor the evolving policy environment and analyse the implications for our industry. As part of these efforts, we will send out a survey to MMB members, meeting planners and other industry professionals to assess the immediate and long-term impacts. “We will also create a dedicated webpage on the MMB site with information about the executive order, talking points, frequently asked questions and other resources. This will be a centralised location with links to accurate and clear information from official government sources (including an FAQ) regarding travellers’ ability to enter the US. It’s important to note that this is just the first communication. You will continue to hear from us on this issue and we ask that you reach out to us with question and concerns so we can best support the industry during this time.”
The update was signed by Richard Harper & Paul Van Deventer
An MMB public statement also said the US administration’s executive order on immigration and refugees had led to “concern and confusion across the meetings industry”.
The statement went on: “Our industry is all about bringing people together, fostering relationships, driving positive outcomes and supporting communities. We are continuing to monitor the issue and will be reaching out to our members to understand how the executive order is affecting them. At the same time, Meetings Mean Business joins with industry partners in reaffirming that it’s critical to strike the right balance between enhanced security and travel facilitation. “Together, we urge the administration to conduct its review of the visa issuance protocols quickly, and trust that it will yield an even more secure travel security system that protects international travellers and welcomes them into our country whether traveling for a meeting or leisure.”
Currently the executive order includes provisions that temporarily suspend or limit travel from various countries around the world. Among the most significant provisions for the travel community, the executive order:
- Suspends entry to the US for 90 days for nationals of seven countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen) travelling on immigrant and non-immigrant visas;
- Calls for review of visa issuance procedures and information sharing on visa applicants from foreign governments. Countries not sharing information on visa applicants with the US can be barred from receiving visas in the future;
- Suspends the admission of most refugees for 120 days;
- Requests expedited completion of biometric entry-exit tracking at ports of entry.
The US administration has also said it needs the opportunity to review the current visa review process and determine: 1) what additional information is needed during the visa process to verify if an individual poses a national security threat; and 2) which countries are failing to provide that necessary information.
The executive order does not suspend the existing Visa Waiver Programme, which allows for visa renewal without an interview.
MMB said it would be working closely to ensure the meetings perspective is a part of advocacy efforts. Specific actions, it said, would include:
- Reaching out to the Trump administration, Congress, the media and other stakeholders to communicate both our industry’s alignment on security goals and the importance of international travel to our economy, and to ensure efforts to enhance national security do not harm legitimate travel;
- Urging the administration to conduct its review quickly in order to return to admitting legitimate travelers;
- Seeking clarity from the administration on the order’s impact on certain groups of travellers—for example, EU citizens with dual nationalities from the seven affected countries;
- Reinforcing the broad benefits of Brand USA, which in times of controversy plays a critically important role in communicating official information and building positive perceptions of the US as a desirable travel destination;
- Educating the administration and lawmakers on the Visa Waiver Programme as a key vehicle to facilitate secure international travel;
- Assessing the impact of the current executive order on inbound travel from large international markets due to negative perceptions; and
- Collecting data and feedback from the meetings industry to understand the impact on that sector specifically.
Meeting Professionals International (MPI), meanwhile, has issued the following official statement on the executive order:
“We are concerned the recently signed US executive order could have negative impacts on our global membership community and the meeting and event industry.
“MPI is lending its full support to the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and their efforts to monitor this issue and understand potential implications.
“We will unite with fellow coalition members to advocate for our industry, sharing updates with our members on how Meetings Mean Business is ‘reaffirming that it’s critical to strike the right balance between enhanced security and travel facilitation’.”