Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) Taleb Rifai has, in a Farsi interview with IRNA, weighed in on US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry into the United States for the nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries.
He said the stance adopted by the World Tourism Organization after the introduction of the ban in late January, 2017, was that slapping a travel ban on an individual because of his or her nationality runs counter to international freedom principles on travelling and travelling facilitation promoted by the international tourism community.
Moreover, he said, the travel ban is an obstacle to reaping the huge benefits of the tourism industry in order to boost economic growth and create jobs for countries, including the US itself.
He was asked what objectives the US follows by imposing the travel ban under the pretext of fighting terrorism and why it applies to countries such as Iran, whose citizens have not been involved in any terrorist attack in any country, namely the US. In response, he said global challenges require global solutions, and that today’s security challenges should result in the creation of new walls.
Unlike what is believed, isolationism and blind discriminatory actions will not only not increase security, but further fuel tensions and threats.
He then offered his assessment of the negative reaction of the US people, companies and tourism sector to the travel ban.
Rifai said the negative consequences of the decision will most of all affect the US and American companies. He said a country which imposes travel bans using such a hostile approach will definitely face reaction from travellers and decrease demands for visits to America.
He was also asked if he thinks the travel ban will have a negative impact on the US nomination to host the 2024 Olympic games. In response, the top official said such a ban is completely against principles which promote such games, adding the travel ban will have an adverse effect on the US image as well as its efforts to host the games.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Rifai said talks are underway with Iran to establish in the country a regional centre to train tourist guides for the Silk Road, but stopped short of giving a specific date for that.