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PLENARY National Tourism Q ‘What Really Pushed Me’

INDUSTRY NEWS

Industry Embraces President Obama’s New Tourism Strategy

I

S IT TIME TO PRONOUNCE THE AIG EFFECT dead and buried? Three years after touching off a backlash against holding incentive

programs and other business events in enter- tainment and resort destinations, President Obama traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando to announce plans for “a national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs.” Obama spoke against the backdrop of the

Magic Kingdom at the Jan. 19 event. “In 2010, nearly 60 million international visitors helped the tourism industry generate over $134 billion,” he said. “Tourism is the No. 1 service that we export. … And that means jobs. More money spent by more tourists means more businesses can hire more workers.” Building on the passage of 2010’s Travel

Promotion Act, which created the Corporation for Travel Promotion, Obama said, he was calling on his administration to expand the Global Entry Program to “almost all international travelers coming to the United States”; add countries to the Visa Waiver Program; and increase by 40 percent the ability to process visas in China and Brazil this year. Obama said: “I want America to be the top tourist destination in the world.” The meetings and hospitality industry is right

there with him. “We are thrilled that the administration sees the value of face-to-face meetings,” said Deborah Sexton, PCMA’s president and CEO, “and is committed to fixing the visa situation and also working on improving the current broken infrastructure of our passport entry experience.” Chairman of the PCMA Board of Directors Kent Allaway, CEM, CMP, vice

22 pcma convene March 2012

president of meetings and trade shows for the Produce Marketing Association, added: “This is a huge win for all of us in the face-to-face community that are trying to attract a larger percentage of international attendees at our events, meetings, and conventions.” Other industry leaders were similarly

pleased, including: Geoff Freeman, executive vice presi-

dent and COO, U.S. Travel Association: “President Obama’s recent remarks are the clearest signal ever sent from the White House that the meetings industry, and the broader travel industry, is critical to America’s economic health. The industry’s ability to create jobs, strengthen business operations, and drive spending that powers local economies is both unique and of first-order importance for an economic recovery stuck in neutral.” (Read Freeman’s entire response of behalf of U.S. Travel at http://bit.ly/Obama-USTA.) Joe McInerney, president and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA): “We commend President Obama for prioritizing this bipartisan and high-growth area for our economy. We are encouraged that the continued on page 24

www.pcma.org

KEYS TO THE KINGDOM: “Tourism is the No. 1 service that we ex- port,” President Obama said during an appear- ance in Orlando’s Walt Disney World. “And that means jobs.”

PHOTO BY SONYA N. HEBERT/WHITE HOUSE

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