From the publisher
By Bruce Piper
It was difficult not to feel deep sympathy for the organisers of last month’s US Travel Association (USTA) IPW 2019 trade show in Anaheim, California, who reminded me of prize fighters trying to punch their way out of trouble with one arm tied behind their backs.
USTA CEO Roger Dow was in supremely diplomatic mode, as he spoke about America’s welcome for tourists among a background of increased security, heightened suspicion and mounting border delays for visitors to the USA.
Elephants in the room included an announcement during the week that social media history would be included in scrutiny of US visa applicants, as well as a newly imposed warning from China about the risks of its citizens visiting the USA due to potential gun violence.
Dow detailed ongoing efforts to have the five-year-funding for Brand USA extended once it expires in September 2020, as well as the bizarre but apparently necessary push to rename the highly successful Visa Waiver Program to the more politically acceptable “Secure Travel Partnership”.
He showed a clip from a State of the Union address where President Trump stated “we want more people to come to the USA” as part of a wider diatribe about ensuring borders are secure, with Dow noting ongoing dialogue with the administration meant “there is hope”.
There is no doubt that the travel industry in the USA knows its importance to the economy — but we should all hope that this message gets through to higher levels of the US government which currently seems determined to raise barriers to travel and tourism, not lower them.
MEANWHILE it was intriguing to observe the resignation of Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon last month — and confirmation that he’s considering a career in politics. The charismatic Luxon has led the carrier for the last seven years, presiding over a period of strong growth and financial success while simultaneously giving Air NZ the best corporate reputation of any business on either side of the Tasman.
Most people would expect it to be impossible to dislodge the highly popular Jacinta Ardern from her role as New Zealand PM — but if anyone can do it, Luxon can, so if he does decide to join the NZ National Party there will be lots of excitement ahead.
AND FINALLY Jenny I are fortunate enough to be heading to the Arctic later this month to experience Hurtigruten’s revolutionary new Roald Amundsen hybrid cruise ship.
The voyage, taking in the remote Svalbard Peninsula along with Greenland and Iceland, will be a milestone in expedition cruising as Hurtigruten pioneers a new era of sustainability in one of the world’s most fragile environments.
I can’t wait to see it!