. Travel Industry Responds to Violence at U.S. Capitol | Northstar Meetings Group

Travel Industry Responds to Violence at U.S. Capitol

Marriott's president and CEO issued a scathing statement on the riots, while Michael Dominguez of ALHI stressed the importance of diversity.

Updated Jan. 8, 2020

A growing number of travel industry associations have condemned the actions of a pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential election results. Five people died, including one U.S. Capitol police officer. More than 50 officers also were injured, according to ABC News. Hours after the building was put on lockdown, Congress resumed proceedings and certified President-elect Joe Biden's win early Thursday morning.

An Assault on Democracy

The American Society of Association Executives denounced the attack as an "assault on our democracy." The membership organization, which includes nearly 48,000 association executives, noted the importance of such organizations in bringing together individuals with differing opinions, backgrounds and experiences, but called for an end to divisive rhetoric and fabrications surrounding the election.

"The peaceful and orderly transfer of power following a certified U.S. election and the rule of law must be protected, no matter the political differences of our fellow citizens," said ASAE in a statement.

The organization also pointed to racial injustices in the nation, saying "it is time to examine the stark contrast between the law enforcement response to these rioters intent on violence and the strong-arm tactics employed to quell protests for racial justice that took place last year in Washington and other parts of the country."

Meanwhile, Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson has issued a scathing statement criticizing the violent riots. The head of the hotel giant recognized that many of its staff members and guests have differing views on the election, but stressed the need for civil debate.

"In the U.S., we can use our voice and our vote to share our views. But what we can’t do is trample the Constitution; we can’t use violence and terror to force an agenda," said Sorenson. "My sincere hope is that we learn from this unspeakable tragedy. We have big challenges facing us — now is the time to focus on unity for our country, defeating the pandemic and building a fair economy." 

Michael Dominguez, president and CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International, said the travel industry is one that celebrates diversity and diversity of thought, and denounced the assault as having no place in society. "There are no words that could effectively capture what we witnessed at the Capitol on Wednesday... We need to demand from our leaders and each other a greater commitment to respect, civility and understanding, as change needs to begin with us," he said. 

Other organizations that have spoken out include the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the U.S. Travel Association. In a statement on Twitter, AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers said "the violence at the United States Capitol is an attack on the values we hold dear as Americans and has no place in our country. This is not who we are."

U.S. Travel president and CEO Roger Dow echoed similar sentiments, saying the behavior "has no place in any peaceful democracy, much less in the country that is supposed to be the foremost example of democratic principles." 

In the nation's capital, Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, issued a message of hope for future, despite what unfolded in the city this week. 

"The events that transpired are not a long-term reflection on the city, as the nation's capital has a long history of hosting high-profile events safely and securely," said Ferguson. "I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to deal with healing from yesterday’s insurrection, and the pandemic, as we welcome the peaceful transition of power with the inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.”

Airline Industry Weighs Restrictions on Protestors

The head of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA called on those who participated in the protests to be banned from boarding flights home, citing safety concerns and "mob mentality behavior" that occurred on several flights to the D.C. area on Tuesday. The union organization represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants from 17 airlines.

"Our first priority in aviation safety and security is to keep any problems on the ground," said AFA international president Sara Nelson in a statement. "Some of the people who traveled in our planes yesterday participated in the insurrection at the Capitol today. Their violent and seditious actions at the Capitol today create further concern about their departure from the D.C. area. Acts against our democracy, our government and the freedom we claim as Americans must disqualify these individuals from the freedom of flight."

Nelson encouraged airlines to work with the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation to ensure the safety of passenger and crew members by "keeping all problems on the ground." In response, American Airlines has announced that it is increasing staff at three airports in the D.C. area. The carrier will also ban alcohol on flights to and from Washington, D.C. A state of emergency in the district has been extended until Jan. 21, the day after Biden's inauguration.