With the recent Orlando shootings – and a resolve by the U.S. travel industry to stand united and strong – as a recurring theme throughout IPW 2016’s many presentations, balancing freedom of travel and security was the main message from the U.S. Travel Association to the rest of the world this morning.
In a presentation that addressed growing tourism concerns over factors such as terrorism and the spread of the Zika virus, U.S. Travel Association President & CEO Roger Dow stated that despite such obstacles, the travel industry and the country at large must take educated measures that ensure both accessibility and security for residents and visitors alike.
“America is not a fortress and it should not be. It would be dangerous and costly to try to cut ourselves off from the world,” Dow said, in a statement that seemed to counter Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s assertion to ban Muslim visitors and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. “The U.S. Travel Association’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. As such, we believe that our responses to threats in today’s world should be informed by intelligence, innovation and continuing to engage our friends and allies. We stand our best chance to achieve security and prosperity when travellers, and indeed all of us, choose freedom over fear.”
Those measures include maintaining the visa waiver program between the U.S. and several countries including Canada and the European Union, where visa reciprocity measures are facing a challenge due to a handful of EU nations’ current exclusion from the program (the EU is expected to decide on the matter on July 12) and the growth of programs such as U.S. Customs preclearance, already in place at a number of Canadian gateways; currently, a number of additional Canadian airports are slated to receive approval for customs preclearance, including Porter Airlines’ headquarters at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
The Los Angeles panel addresses questions at IPW
In addition to the many scheduled appointments and tours (more about those in an upcoming article), PAX took in a number of press conferences this morning held by some of the top U.S. destinations and attractions. Here’s a rundown of the conferences so far:
Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood Resorts
While Halloween is still a few months away, Universal Studios Hollywood is getting started early this year when the park’s new The Walking Dead attraction opens on July 4, featuring authentic settings and yes, zombies, crafted in conjunction with the hit show’s special effects department. In Florida, Universal Orlando is preparing to open its new Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction this summer, while in 2017, the new Volcano Bay waterpark will open its doors.
NYC & Co.
With New York City looking to top 2015’s 58.3 million visitors with a projected 2016 count of 59.7 million, lots of development is taking place throughout the five boroughs, said NYC & Co. President & CEO Fred Dixon, who was later joined by the city's latest family ambassadors, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Multiple new properties are coming online in the next few years - the city expects to see 135,000 hotel rooms by 2019 – while in 2018, the Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s west side will feature shopping, residences and a hotel as part of the largest private real estate development in U.S. history. On the tech front, five hundred new LinkNYC kiosks, providing free WiFi, are opening across the Big Apple this summer, while NYC & Co. has also launched its brand new consumer website (a new trade site is expected later this year).
With Los Angeles International Airport already on track to top its 75 million passengers recorded in 2015, LAX is investing billions in new projects such as a midfield terminal (adding 12 gates in 2019) as well as a ‘people mover’ integrating trains and walkways to solve traffic problems at the airport, expected to open in 2023. Meanwhile, L.A.’s public transit system is adding miles of rail to the city’s train system, while bike sharing will come to the city next month with 65 stations. And the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown is slated for a spring 2017 opening, showcasing the $1.3 billion investment by Korean Airlines in the 889-room, 73-floor property, set to become the largest building west of Chicago at 1,100 feet.
Check out more photos of the IPW 2016 grand opening, featuring Gladys Knight and many more!