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The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) opposes the recently announced travel ban. The travel ban, based on nationality, is contrary to the principles of freedom of travel and goodwill promoted by international tourism and will needlessly damage the tourism sector by depressing benefits in terms of economic growth, international relations, and job creation for many countries, including the USA.
The ATTA serves nearly 1,300 members in 100 different countries. Roughly 275 of those members are American companies, and several members offer trips to some of the countries named in the ban. They have already registered deep concern with us. ATTA member tour operators carry more than four million tourists per year, who spent approximately US$12 billion on trips in 2016 alone. This doesn’t account for the revenues earned by the members who sell gear, clothing, insurance, and myriad other products and services in the travel industry to those customers. Much of the spend in adventure travel is in rural and economically depressed regions and is a critical tool for poverty alleviation and issues such as wildlife and habitat protection.
All ATTA members sign a Values Statement upon joining to indicate support of key principles that guide our organization and thus our industry. We treat each other and travelers with respect and professionalism and conduct business with safety, honesty, and integrity. Informing part of our Values Statement is the UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which includes (among many things) a belief that tourism contributes to mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies, serves as a factor of sustainable development, and is a contributor to the cultural heritage of mankind and an enhancer of global relationships. It also affirms our belief in the liberty of tourist movement between destinations.
Travelers, as recently reported in new research by the ATTA, personally benefit from the expanded worldview and cultural experiences adventure travel offers. Many reported that “peace,” “freedom,” and a “broadened perspective” were important to them. This cultural understanding and exposure breeds tolerance, empathy, and understanding of others in the world. It is through travel that the ATTA believes people can move toward better cultural understanding and peace.