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Travel Ban Puts Travel Industry On Edge

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The back and forth between the courts and the Trump administration over the travel ban have also caused uncertainty and anxiety in the U.S. travel industry. This past week, a modified version went into effect. While it's hard to pinpoint why exactly travelers may be avoiding the U.S., the strong dollar could be partially to blame. Travel industry leaders are worried that the new travel restrictions could hurt revenues. We're joined now by Claudia Menezes, the VP and chief marketing officer of Pegasus, a tour operator in Orlando, Fla. Welcome to the program.

CLAUDIA MENEZES: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What are you seeing in the numbers lately, specifically with international travelers?

MENEZES: It's about, like - on the international side, I can tell you that we lose about, like, 40 to 60 percent.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Since the election?

MENEZES: Since the election. And one thing that is very important that, sometimes, people don't realize - although the domestic numbers are high now, it's the international people that spend money in the U.S. It's the international people that do tons of shopping and use much more restaurants and services and tour guides.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And can you tell me specifically an example of someone who has canceled with you and what they've told you?

MENEZES: Yes. We were working with a pharmaceutical company from Egypt. We'd been working on this program for about one year. It was about 250 participants. And after, like, the travel ban, everything was canceled because they were afraid of problems. And we lost the business.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So this Egyptian company - even though Egypt is not one of the countries cited under President Trump's executive order, still, they decided they just didn't want to risk it and come to the United States.

MENEZES: Exactly. Exactly.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what did you tell them? How did you counter that?

MENEZES: Well, it's tough with the news going up and down, especially when there is all this uncertainty. One day is yes. One other day is no. But it's not, like, really the reality. Like, the U.S. is still welcoming. Florida is welcoming.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: May I ask - that Egyptian booking that you lost - how much money did you lose?

MENEZES: Half a million dollars (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's a lot of money.

MENEZES: Yes. When you add airline tickets, seven-night stays in hotels, breakfast, lunch, dinner, events, tickets to the parks, it's a lot.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Claudia Menezes, the vice president and chief marketing officer of Pegasus, a tour operator in Orlando, Fla., thank you so much.

MENEZES: Thank you very much for the opportunity. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.