A Perfect Storm: National Travel & Tourism Week, the GSA Scandal, and Congress’ Reaction
May 11, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

travel & tourism weekNational Travel and Tourism Week kicked off on Saturday, May 5th and will run until Sunday, May 13th. This annual salute to all organizations affiliated with the travel industry (including meetings, events, and suppliers, such as conference equipment rental companies) is meant to celebrate and champion the power of travel.

But unfortunately, it sits under a huge cloud called the General Services Administration (GSA) scandal which has hit the industry hard by the cancelation of at least 1 association meeting last week. It has also caused the House and the Senate to approve separate, but equally damaging bills, that could reduce travel spending of governmental employees by 20% through the year 2016. 

As of this post's publication date, President Obama has not signed this measure into law and given his recent Executive Order pinpointing a need to increase international travel to the U.S., it is my hope that he does not sign the bills. Much pressure is being brought forth by associations such as ASAE, PCMA, and MPI, including having their members sign an industry-wide petition. 

In these times of uncertainty, it is always wise to look at the facts to see what impact travel really has in our country. So, here are some key talking points about travel and the event meeting services industry we should be articulating to Members of Congress, state officials, and even local dignitaries. 

Below is what we should be celebrating. Here are the facts, as presented by the U.S. Travel Association:

Travel and Tourism generates:

  • $1.9 trillion in economic output

    • $1.1 trillion in areas that affect the traveler (such as speaker fees, food and beverage, event staff, renting audio visual equipment) and
    • $900 billion spent directly by the traveler.
       
  • $194 billion in payroll 
     
  • $124 billion in tax revenue for federal, state, and local agencies
     
  • 14.4 million jobs

    • 6.9 million in industries that support travel 
    • 5.2 million in the travel industry itself
    • 1.4 million in general business travel and
    • .9 million in the meetings and events industry
       
  • 1 out of 9 U.S. jobs (hotels, convention centers, restaurants, event audio visual firms, caterers, airlines, ground transportation, trains, taxis, just to name a few)

ASAE, PCMA, MPI, and the U.S. Travel Association are asking all of us in the event meeting services industry to do the following:

  1. Share the above facts with colleagues, association members, and other organizations
  2. While Congress is not in session, contact your Members of Congress and share with them the facts and the ripple effect such legislation may have on the travel industry
  3. Do the 3 things outlined in an earlier blog post, "Why Are Face-to-Face Meetings So Important Anyway?

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment provider, is very interested in helping meeting and event planners carry this message forward. Talk to one of their skilled Account Executives as to how they can help you communicate the value of meetings!

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