Travel industry groups condemned Wednesday's events at the U.S. Capitol, which saw pro-Trump rioters force their way into the building and stall the certification of Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
"We watched yesterday's events at the U.S. Capitol with a mixture of shock, sadness and disappointment," ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said in a statement. "This was an assault not just on a building that is the acknowledged worldwide symbol of democracy and freedom but also an act of violence and intimidation at a place where many of our friends and neighbors work."
Similarly, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow said the organization was "profoundly heartbroken by the disturbing actions at the U.S. Capitol that are being viewed around the world."
"The behavior we are witnessing has no place in any peaceful democracy, much less in the country that is supposed to be the foremost example of democratic principles," Dow added.
Both associations have their headquarters near the Capitol. U.S. Travel is a short car ride away on New York Avenue in downtown Washington, while ASTA is based across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Va.
Eben Peck, ASTA's executive vice president of advocacy, said he worked in the Capitol building for five years and has spent significant time there for the past 15. He likened it to a living museum, not just another office building.
"It's one of the most iconic single buildings in our entire country," Peck said. "I mean, it's like our St. Peter's or Notre Dame. So, to see it really desecrated in that way was sickening and disheartening."
Dow called for a quick end to the "chaos and mayhem" in Washington so the country can move forward, a sentiment echoed by Kerby.
"Today, our country as a whole and the travel industry in particular are facing challenges with few parallels in history all while under the clouds of this horrific pandemic that has yet to abate," Kerby said. "We need to come together as a people, through our elected officials in Washington, and do what needs to be done to get through this crisis and start building a better future."
In an email, the USTOA said, "our message is simple: Come together," which was the theme of its 2020 virtual conference.