Each new year brings an air of hope. When the Trump administration instated the first travel ban in January, however, it looked like 2017 was off to a turbulent start for the travel industry. This year definitely had its rough patches, yet there were good things, too.
With each setback, the travel industry rallied together and proved that the industry isn't just an industry—but a community determined to change the world through remarkable destinations and extraordinary experiences.
The National Park System grew.
Harriet Tubman National Park officially became the 414th unit in the National Park System on January 10, 2017. The park commemorates Tubman's post-Civil War advocacy for women's suffrage and other causes.
Trump banned travel.
On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel from seven predominately Muslim countries. Chaos broke out at international airports across the country as travelers were detained or deported. While the travel ban was stayed in court—and only passed with a set of more limited restrictions—it set an unwelcome tone for international visitors the industry is working to revive.
Toronto issued its own ban.
In response to the uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration's policies regarding entry into the U.S., school boards and other organizations across Canada—like the Toronto District School Board—instituted their own bans on U.S.-bound trips. While Canada was not listed in the travel bans, the Toronto District School Board expressed concern that students with appropriate documentation and status in Canada could face trouble because of their, or their parents', country of origin. The American Bus Association and Student & Youth Travel Association joined forces to write a letter to Trump, urging him to clarify the U.S. was open for business.
The Tall Ships returned to Boston Harbor.
For the first time in 17 years, Tall Ships returned to Boston Harbor for Sail Boston 2017 and offered a rare opportunity for travelers to view and board the vessels.
Day turned to night in 14 U.S. states.
For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse swept across the United States. While all of North America was privy to a partial eclipse of the sun, 14 states in the U.S. were in the path of totality and experienced day turned to night—and attracted millions of visitors. It was one big party.
It was a bad season for natural disasters.
No natural disaster is good, but the Western Hemisphere was hit particularly hard during hurricane season this year—and it wasn't just hurricanes. In addition to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria were tropical storms, and wildfires burned more than 2 million acres in the West. Yet the travel industry rallied together, and destinations are coming back stronger than before.
Air travel skyrocketed, especially for one company.
The Air Travel Group, the company of 2017 Groups Today Top 10 Next Gen Eric Peterson, ranked as the fastest growing privately held travel company in the United States.
You voted for the Best 20 of 2017.
With all the bad news in the world, the travel industry is doing something right! You nominated the Best 20 of 2017 in the Groups Today Readers' Choice Awards.
Trump re-tightened restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba.
In 2016, travel to Cuba opened up with flight and cruise operations restarting, but the Trump administration reinstated some restrictions. In addition to rescinding individual people-to-people visas for U.S. travelers to Cuba, the administration identified a list of 180 companies, hotels and stores with which no person or organization under U.S. jurisdiction is allowed to carry out financial transaction.
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center Made "Kiss-Story."
This year, 448 couples locked lips under individual sprigs of mistletoe at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center and broke a Guinness World Record.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.