Together We Are Stronger – Advocating for Business Travel

During GBTA Conference 2016 Frankfurt in partnership with VDR last week, GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick and VDR Executive Director Hans-Ingo Biehl delivered a speech from Centre Stage focused on our collective advocacy efforts in the EU as we work to deliver a pro-business travel message to the elected and appointed governmental decision makers in Brussels.


Here is a transcript of the full speech:

MIKE: Last year, Ingo and I announced the launch of our advocacy initiative on behalf of the business travel industry in Europe. Our collective efforts have resulted in delivering a very effective pro-business travel message to the elected and appointed governmental decision makers in Brussels.

We knew the time had come for us to make this investment in our collective future. We began with not a moment to spare as immigration worries, terrorism events and global economic upheaval threaten the future of not just our industry – but every other industry – as business travel drives business growth globally.

Brexit was something the experts said wouldn’t happen. Just this past week, the United States capped one of the most turbulent elections in recent history and against all polls elected a hotelier named Donald Trump.

And although it might feel like these are isolated events or unusual times, the future likely holds even more uncertainty as more countries face elections as part of an overall global political realignment.

It is for these reasons that we as a group, as an industry, must remain connected and active in our efforts to ensure safely vetted business travelers continue to have access to European markets. As we can attest, free movement of people is essential to stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in Europe.

With the current terrorism threats and a refugee crisis, enhancing security must remain a key priority for European authorities. However, we must continue to remind them to support legislative proposals that continue to allow the efficient movement of low risk business travelers entering and exiting the EU.

But unfortunately, some of these discussions both in Brussels and the United States are taking a worrisome direction. For instance, if the EU was to re-introduce trip-by-trip visa requirements for U.S. business travelers – and this could actually happen – this would severely impact your ability to do your job, place further stress on consulates’ resources and set back the current strategic relationship between the EU and the United States.

This is part of a much larger debate on issues ranging from the future of the sharing economy to the implementation of Brexit – we’ll have more on that in a minute for you as we host a Brexit debate here on stage.

This is why we are here this week, meeting and discussing business travel topics and future messaging to our politicians to ensure business travel continues to grow and remains safe, yet efficient.

With our different opinions, experiences and beliefs, we are a microcosm of the entire global economy. We will have debates and disagreements. But, the one thing we must not forget is that Together We Are Stronger.

Thank you!