Skift Take

What TripAdvisor CEO Kaufer tweeted about Republican Congress members holds true for the travel industry, as well: This is not the time to be silent about an issue that cuts to the core of travel and democracy in the U.S.

The CEOs of Expedia Inc., Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Lyft and Uber condemned the Trump administration’s executive order to temporarily ban immigrants, refugees, and even green card-holders from seven majority-Muslim countries, while elsewhere within the U.S. travel industry there was a more tepid response or even silence.

U.S. federal judges, in the interim, have stayed several parts of the executive order, including blocking deportations of travelers from the seven countries who have already entered the U.S. at airports or other entry points.

The executive order is controversial on several grounds, including the fact that some consider it a Muslim ban, although supporters of the move deny it.

Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who is an immigrant from Iran, argued that President Trump hastily wiped out the country’s roots as “a nation of immigrants” with “the stroke of a pen.”

Khosrowshahi issued the following statement: “The President’s order represents the worst of his proclivity toward rash action versus thoughtfulness. Ours is a nation of immigrants. These are our roots, this is our soul. All erased with the stroke of a pen.

“As Expedia Inc we will do everything we can to protect and help our employees and travelers. That’s our job. Hopefully our government can do its job, thoughtfully, and with just a bit of respect for our immigrant past.”

Unlike the CEOs of TripAdvisor and Airbnb, both of whom opposed the executive order on Twitter, Khosrowshahi didn’t tweet his statement.

On Inauguration Day, January 20, however, Expedia ran a TV advertisement three times on CNN with veiled opposition to the Trump administration’s planned Mexico-U.S. border wall, and Khosrowshahi tweeted about the ad.

“Peek over your neighbor’s fence to see the other side,” he tweeted. “The difference is YOU. #LifeatExpedia #TraveltheWorldBetter”

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky tweeted three times about the issue and even offered to provide “free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the U.S.”

“Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allow in the U.S,,” Chesky tweeted. “Stay tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing.”

“Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we just stand with those who are affected,” the Airbnb CEO tweeted.

“Open doors brings all of US together,” Chesky tweeted. “Closing doors further divides US. Let’s all find ways to connect people, not separate them.”

TripAdvisor co-founder and CEO Stephen Kaufer wrote a LinkedIn post condemning Trump’s executive order as “cruel and discriminatory.” He noted that the company committed $5 million over the next three year to dealing with the global refugee crisis.

Kaufer also tweeted that Trump’s executive order was “wrong” and won’t improve U.S. security.

“We need to do more, not less to help refugees,” Kaufer tweeted. “Trump’s action was wrong on humanitarian grounds, legal grounds, and won’t make us ‘safer.'”

Kaufer said Republican elected representatives have to take a stand.

“If you consider yourself a leader: pls share your opinion. Republican senators/congressmen … can you hear me? You can’t sit this one out.”

In contrast to the stances of Expedia, Airbnb and TripAdvisor, the Priceline Group declined to comment on President Trump’s executive order.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Facebook cited “President Trump’s unjust immigration and travel ban” in pledging to compensate affected drivers for lost earnings and added that the on-demand car service would provide legal support “for drivers who are trying to get back into the country.”

Kalanick, who’s a member of a Trump advisory council, only posted his condemnation of Trump’s executive order, however, after a #deleteUber campaign on Facebook, according to The Verge.

“Kalanick’s pledges follow a blistering response from people on Twitter and elsewhere to his original statement on Trump’s immigration ban, as well as Uber’s decision to continue serving JFK Airport during a reported taxi strike,” The Verge reported.

Kalanick wrote on Facebook Sunday: “Standing up for the driver community:

“Here’s the email I’m sending to drivers affected by President Trump’s unjust immigration and travel ban:

“At Uber we’ve always believed in standing up for what’s right. Today we need your help supporting drivers who may be impacted by the President’s unjust immigration ban.

“Drivers who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen and live in the US but have left the country, will not be able to return for 90 days. This means they won’t be able to earn money and support their families during this period.
So it’s important that as a community that we do everything we can to help these drivers. Here’s what Uber will do:
– Provide 24/7 legal support for drivers who are trying to get back into the country. Our lawyers and immigration experts will be on call 24/7 to help.
– Compensate drivers for their lost earnings. This will help them support their families and put food on the table while they are banned from the US;
– Urge the government to reinstate the right of U.S. residents to travel – whatever their country of origin – immediately;
– Create a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services.

“If you are a driver or a friend or family member of someone who has been affected, please contact us at:

“Uber is a community. We’re here to support each other. Please help Uber to help drivers who may be affected by this wrong and unjust immigration ban.”

Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green tweeted that “Trump’s immigration ban is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values,” and pledged that the company would donated $1 million over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been defending travelers detained at U.S. airports, “to defend our Constitution.”

A Lyft blog post on the topic is here.

Lola co-founder and CEO Paul English tweeted about the potential problem the executive order might create for an employee.

“One of our @lolatravel employees just wrote me, concerned that he might not be able to re-enter the the U.S. if he goes home to visit family:(

San Francisco International Airport issued a statement requesting a Customs and Border Protection briefing on the executive order and praised “members of the public who have so bravely taken a stand against this action by speaking publicly in our facilities.”

San Francisco International Airport stated: “We appreciate all those who have so passionately expressed their concerns over the President’s Executive Order relating to immigration. We share these concerns deeply, as our highest obligation is to the millions of people from around the world whom we serve. Although Customs and Border Protection services are strictly federal and operate outside the jurisdiction of all U.S. airports, including SFO, we have requested a full briefing from this agency to ensure our customers remain the top priority.

“We are also making supplies available to travelers affected by this Executive Order, as well as to the members of the public who have so bravely taken a stand against this action by speaking publicly in our facilities.”

Asked about the executive order, a spokesperson for Airlines for America, the airline trade group, said: “Airlines are in contact with DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and CBP officials and are complying with the executive order. Any further questions regarding details/enforcement are best directed to CBP/DHS.”

Roger Dow, the CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, which has been adamantly opposed to Delta, American and United airlines trying to curb inroads by Gulf carriers by overturning Open Skies agreements, did not condemn the Trump administration executive order on immigrants and refugees.

Instead, Dow said the U.S. Travel Association is “ready to support the administration and Congress” to “find the right balance between security and facilitation.”

Dow stated: “People all over the world want to visit the U.S., and the U.S. travel and tourism community strongly supports efforts to ensure that visitors to this country are unimpeachably legitimate. In doing so, it is imperative we find the right balance between security and facilitation, and we stand ready to support the administration and Congress to achieve this goal.

“We recognize the new administration’s desire to review visa issuance protocols with respect to countries that have a heightened risk of terrorist activity or weak law enforcement cooperation with our government. We urge the administration to conduct this review quickly, and trust that it will yield an even more secure travel security system that protects international travelers and welcomes them into our country to conduct business and to enjoy our cities, attractions, national parks and landmarks.”

The Global Business Travel Association, meanwhile, as is its custom, didn’t weigh in on the issue despite the fact that the temporary ban impacts corporations and their employees, as well as airlines and hotels. The GBTA twitter feed stuck with promotional tweets.

Skift co-founder and editor-in-chief Jason Clampet issued a statement in Skift’s Saturday weekend review newsletter that can be read here.

Skift also highlighted a story we wrote back in October that puts travel into a geopolitical context.

Rohan Gilkes, founder and CEO of Innclusive, a home-sharing site that launched in reaction to what it perceives as racism on Airbnb, posted on the company’s Instagram page that the U.S. government’s new immigration ban is “antithetical” to the site’s values.

“Innclusive is a company made up of folks from all of the world, from countries like Barbados, Nigeria, Ghana, Portugal, Haiti, Poland, Serbia, and others,” Gilkes said. “The current anti-immigration climate not only affects our people, but those policies are antithetical to everything we stand for as a company.”

Gilkes said the company will continue to donate to the ACLU to support its efforts on behalf of immigrants and refugees.

“The immigration ban is not a policy we support and we will do all we can to fight it and to offer assistance to those that are resisting,” Gilkes said. “Innclusive is diverse. Our mission at its core is to increase access. For people to travel and explore and to be able to do so without the weight and uncertainty of discrimination and bias. This policy has to be resisted. And we will stand with you in doing so.”

When asked for comment, Kent Johnson, co-founder of black travel community Black & Abroad, said the company will keep the community informed about the risks that the travel ban may pose to its users.

“As an American, I am disappointed that such a disgusting attack on humanity was put into place by our government,” Johnson said. “As a traveler, I am concerned that the world may react to Trump’s decision in ways that disrupt the opportunities provided to so many through the means of travel. As the son of Muslim man who served our military, I fear he’ll be subject to harassment and questioning should he decide to travel, regardless of the fact that he’s an American citizen.

“We at Black & Abroad are carefully watching the world’s next steps, as we want to ensure our community is aware of any changes in customs or potential safety concerns for any traveler seeking to visit another country.”


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: airbnb, expedia, immigration, politics, tripadvisor, trump, visas

Photo credit: Demonstrators sit down in the concourse and hold a sign that reads "We are America," as more than 1,000 people gathered at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to protest President Donald Trump's order that restricts immigration to the U.S., Saturday, January 28, 2017. Genna Martin / via AP

Up Next

Loading next stories