Countries whose citizens are currently barred from entering the United States include Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Although Number 10 has announced that this restriction will not apply to UK citizens with dual nationality, the full impact of the ban isn't yet clear.
Event planners across the UK have condemened the new law, agreeing that these restrictions could make international business travel and events more difficult. However, others have honed in on the renewed opportunities this presents for Britain as a destination, especially in light of weak sterling following Brexit.
During a time where safety and security is a great concern for the events industry, Trump’s visa ban adds further "confusion and anxiety to the travel process," according to Nic Cooper, CEO of Sledge. "We have some work coming up in the US and now we will have to be mindful about the new immigration rules, and assess which employees and freelancers travel with us to work there," he added.
Meanwhile, executive director of The Association of Corporate Travel Executives Greeley Koch said that business will be drawn away from the US in light of these restriction. "If there is doubt about the validity of a visa, or worry about entering the US, or fear of reprisals, then business travellers will opt not to go. Companies with duty of care concerns will not subject their employees to these kinds of risks. This level of uncertainty is bad for business."
With the travel and visa process potentially fraught with complications, planners may seek out alternative destinations according to Cooper. "The policy is designed to make people feel unwelcome and I do think companies will consider other destinations as a result. A lot of corporates employ staff from different nationalities, and they won't want to travel to a country that makes their employees feel unwanted or causes confusion and hassle around the visa process. Other countries, such as Canada, have the opportunity to welcome visitors from all over the world and gain more business as a result. Long-term, if this travel ban goes ahead, America may find it's shooting itself in the foot."
Helen Seaman, group managing director at Rapiergroup, added that repercussions for the US could be felt years into the future, as planners seek out alternative destinations ahead of time: "As an organiser, you would want your destination to be somewhere that the delegates can travel to easily and feel welcomed. You would not want to take any added risk of delegates not being able to enter the country you are visiting and given that destinations are booked for events so far ahead of time, those booking for future years will now be having to take this into account when choosing their destinations, even if this decision proves to be a temporary one.
Benefits to UK
Seaman pointed to the advantages the controversial ban could have for the UK events industry. "The UK and the UK Event Industry can only but benefit from Trump’s travel restrictions as a destination of choice for conference organisers around the world and with the weakness in sterling there has never been a better time to visit" she said.
Commenting further on what this means for planners scoping out destinations for upcoming events she added: "We have one client currently looking at Las Vegas for an incentive programme destination, it will be interesting to see if that destination will now be changed; given the wide cultural diversity we have in the UK."
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