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Senate to Examine Travel, Tourism IssuesMay 11, 2009 By: George Dooley
A Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on travel will be a highlight of the 26th Annual National Travel and Tourism Week planned for this week, the U.S. Travel Association reports. U.S Travel says the hearing will help spark a nationwide focus on travel as a solution to America's ongoing economic challenges. The May 13 hearings will underscore the projected loss of nearly 450,000 travel-related jobs during 2008 and 2009.
Chairman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ranking Member Mel Martinez (R-FL) from the U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee with jurisdiction over travel issues will hold the hearing. A key issue: how the industry and its 7.7 million employees are adapting to troubled times created by a depressed economy. Also planned are questions about continued barriers to travel, such as an antiquated air travel system and a global concern with the U.S. visa and entry process.
This year's theme - "Travel Matters" - highlights travel's unique ability to create jobs, stimulate economic recovery and drive needed tax revenue in all 50 states. The association is also organizing simultaneous rallies in more than 30 cities coast-to-coast. U.S. Travel also notes that AOL Travel will launch a special online feature for travelers on a budget.
"Our industry wants to do everything we can to strengthen the nation's economy by getting Americans back on the road and in the skies," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "The travel dollar permeates the American economy and is critical to saving and creating the jobs that America desperately needs."
Planned activities include:
Travel Rally Day: Thousands of industry employees will take to the streets of more than 30 cities on May 12 to demonstrate their support for travel and its importance to state and local economies. The U.S. Travel Association organized the events, in part, to provide an outlet to the 2.4 million Americans whose jobs depend on the business. U.S. Travel said business travel came under attack earlier this year by select policymakers and sensational media coverage. According to an analysis by Smith Travel Research and the U.S. Travel Association, the travel industry lost nearly $2 billion in January and February 2009 due to mass cancellations of business meetings and events.
Meanwhile, AOL Travel has developed a special online feature timed with National Travel and Tourism Week that includes approximately 100 U.S. Travel member organizations. "Free Things To Do Across America," a series of four regional galleries, is spotlighting free and interesting travel activities nationwide for travelers on a budget. AOL plans a promotional push beginning today that will last throughout the week. Content will remain on the site throughout the summer available at travel.aol.com.
U.S. Travel also reports that the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, co-chaired by Representative Sam Farr (D-CA-17) and Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO-7) has introduced a resolution (H.Con.Res.105) to support the designation of National Travel and Tourism Week. The resolution calls on elected officials from across the country to issue proclamations to raise awareness of the value of travel to the welfare of the nation. It will also encourage the President to issue a proclamation encouraging the people of the United States to observe the week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.