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Brands respond to Trump travel ban

News, 31 January 2017
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GLOBAL: President Trump's latest pronouncement, on restricting US entry to people from certain Muslim countries, has brought a swift reaction from several high-profile brands and left some countries eyeing up potential new tourism opportunities.

Some brands limited themselves to condemning the ban which was announced on Friday and led to confusion at airports as officials struggled to understand the details of the executive order.

Others took practical steps in line with their brand purpose and values. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, chose the president's preferred medium to Tweet that "Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US".

At Starbucks, CEO Howard Schultz, wrote to employees and pledged to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years to work in its stores around the world.

He added that Starbucks would continue to invest and help support coffee growers in Mexico, and to provide health insurance to eligible workers if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Ride-sharing app Lyft chose to donate $1m over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union, which on Saturday won a postponement of the ban.

Observers contrasted that action with the presence of Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO, on a presidential economic advisory group and a #DeleteUber campaign quickly gathered pace. Kalanick responded that the ban "is against everything Uber stands for" and promised drivers unable to work as a result would be compensated for lost earnings.

Global airlines, meanwhile, have been forced to revise crewing rosters, and some passengers have been prevented from flying from Middle East airports, Deutsche Welle reported.

"Ultimately this could feed through to the role airlines play in the global economy in supporting business and tourism due to as yet unquantifiable impacts on demand and cost," said air transport consultant John Strickland.

A different perspective came from Thailand where the head of the tourism authority thought the country could end up benefiting from the ban.

"The Middle East is a big market for us, especially in the medical tourism sector," Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters. "They may choose to visit Thailand more and this may also boost our sector."

Data sourced from Starbucks, Adweek, The Drum, Deutsche Welle, Bangkok Post; additional content by Warc staff

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