GBTA, AH&LA weigh in on Trump's address to Congress

Last night, President Trump addressed Congress for the first time, speaking for a little more than an hour about job creation, immigration, national security, international trade and infrastructure development. The proposed $1-trillion investment in the country’s infrastructure was lauded by the Global Business Travel Association for the potential millions of new jobs it could create, something Michael W. McCormick, executive director and COO of the GBTA, said both sides of the aisle should be able to agree on.

“For the future of business travel, it is paramount that the President and Congress work together on responsible investment in transportation infrastructure to ensure that money is spent wisely and that these investments made safeguard the safe and expedient travel and freedom of movement of all travelers,” McCormick said. “Additionally, it is incumbent for Congress to tackle issues like passing an FAA Reauthorization Bill that accelerates NextGen, creates long-term funding stability and addresses the many concerns related to passenger screening and security.”

The American Hotel & Lodging Association similarly released a statement in support of President Trump’s infrastructure plan, calling for a renewed focus on the country’s workforce and economic growth. 

“With travel and tourism responsible for one in nine jobs, we applaud the President’s commitment to a ‘national rebuilding’ of the nation’s aging infrastructure by announcing a $1 trillion investment which will provide a much-needed boost to the local workforce while encouraging more travel to our cities and towns,” Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the AH&LA, said in the statement. “While the President touched on many issues that impact hospitality and our industry, from immigration, healthcare, and tax reform, to investments in infrastructure and homeland security, we urge the administration to focus on public policy that empowers business growth, entrepreneurial ambitions, and workforce flexibility."

Though recent reports have found that the Trump presidency has created a difficult environment to predict, hoteliers have been optimistic about the country’s new leadership since the end of the election. The President has drawn criticism from multiple industries for a travel ban that some say targets Muslims exclusively and could potentially wreak havoc on inbound international bookings. McCormick, however, said in his statement that security is of paramount importance.

“As we await a new executive order on travel, we urge the Trump administration to keep in mind the importance of business travel to our nation’s economy,” he said. “Closing our borders sends a message to the world that the United States is closed for business. Of course, security always comes first, but GBTA has always been a proponent for expanding proven security programs and developing new technology to facilitate information-sharing among governments to ensure travelers are always vetted properly, making us all more safe and secure.”

In her own statement, Lugar also touched upon the importance of national security but said there needs to be an open line of communication between business owners and the White House with regards to immigration.

“While we recognize the need for robust national security, any action must have a balanced approach to both promote hospitality and travel to the United States for those who wish to come—both as employees and as guests—while also ensuring the safety of our citizens here at home,” Lugar said. “We will continue to engage with the administration, Congress and our partners in the broader U.S. travel industry to develop policies that both welcome and protect our guests, employees and our country.”