The tourism industry in the United States employees over 10 million people, which according to Roger Dow, President of the US Travel Association, is “one in nine American workers in an industry that is 2.5 times the auto industry and a top 10 employer in nearly every U.S. state”. But most of us are small business owners who don’t have extra time to lobby our elected officials for policies and laws that assist the travel industry. This is where the Power of Travel Coalition is going to help us. They have developed a Virtual Travel Town Hall that will allow us to ask candidates questions specific to the travel industry. Here in New York that includes Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillebrand as our Senators, and if you are lucky to live in my part of the state, no Representative in the House at the moment; but candidates will be forthcoming. From August 12-25th, the site will be accepting questions from us. And then from August 30-September 10, we can all vote on what we consider the top questions. They will then be sent out to candidates to review and answer. What would you like to ask? Is it an employment or tax issue that seems ridiculous to your small business? I will ask what can be done to make the entry process for international visitors more friendly and welcoming, as opposed to the siege mentality that many visitors must endure. We can’t very well ask people to come to our country and spend their money if we are rude and demeaning to them the moment they step on U.S. soil.
If we do not take the time to show our elected officials how large and important our industry is, we will have no one to blame but ourselves come election time. Get involved!