MGM’s CEO calls Trump proposals a threat to travel industry

Updated June 6, 2017 - 7:43 pm

President Donald Trump’s immigration and budget proposals threaten to hurt the nation’s travel industry, warned MGM Resorts International Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren.

Trump’s executive order to limit travel from six nations with majority Muslim populations has received global attention. The order, which Trump this week called a travel ban, is before the Supreme Court.

Murren said there is anecdotal evidence the order is hurting travel to the U.S. However, he said he has not seen any effect on Las Vegas or MGM.

“I am concerned with those words. I think they confuse people,” Murren told CNBC in response to a question about the order. Murren was speaking in New York, where he was attending the NYU Hospitality Conference.

Murren used his speech at the conference Tuesday to call on the Trump administration not to cut funding for Brand USA, an organization that promotes foreign travel to the U.S., according to a statement by MGM.

Brand USA is funded by fees from international visitors and matching funds from the private sector, MGM said. The president’s proposed 2018 budget would eliminate funding for Brand USA.

Many nations have similar state-funded programs to attract international travelers, a growing market. Foreign visitors generated $246 billion in travel exports last year, creating an $87 billion travel trade surplus, MGM said.

“America cannot afford to lose our rightful share of that market and the jobs it supports to competitors,” Murren said, according to the MGM statement.

Brand USA has attracted 4.3 million incremental visitors, generating $13.6 billion in related spending and nearly $3.9 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue over the past four years, according to a recent study by Oxford Economics.

Contact Todd Prince at or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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