Expert Forum Explores Travel Trends, Security, and Airline Incidents

Traveling in These Times Forum - Panelists

Thanks to immigration, Zika, and United Airlines' controversial kerfuffle with a passenger, the travel industry has been in the news a lot recently. And that's not likely to change any time soon, according to a panel of experts who participated in a special industry forum Monday in Washington, DC.

Organized by Meet Puerto Rico, a destination marketing organization (DMO) charged with bringing meetings and conventions to Puerto Rico, the forum was titled "Traveling in These Times." Featuring CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) President John Graham, Meet Puerto Rico President and CEO Milton Segarra, Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) President and CEO Don Welsh, Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Tammy Blount, and National Public Radio (NPR) host Jack Speer, who moderated the forum, it explored current statistics, trends, and travel tendencies for 2017, as well as the economic impact of travel.

At its most optimistic, the forum highlighted the fact that Americans took 2.2 billion trips a year for business and leisure purposes in 2015, and that the United States experienced a $98 billion travel trade surplus the same year. In order to maintain that momentum, however, panelists said challenges must be addressed. Among the issues they discussed were recent airline passenger events, President Donald Trump's travel ban, and the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, as well as the effect security has on the travel experience, changes in passport and visa regulations, and the impact of industry challenges on destination marketing.

"It is well-known that this has been a year of changes. We have entered the new normal," Segarra said. "Safety, security, financial situations, government changes, Zika, and health care are some of the major trending topics. As an industry, we speak the same language and want to provide a safe, secure, and enjoyable travel experience. It is our hope that this forum is the start of a conversation that helps us face these issues and work together to find solutions."

Up your meetings-industry IQ. Check out the latest edition of 30 Seconds to Smart!