After reading a Washington Post column that condemned the recent Senate hearings on travel and tourism, ASTA CEO William Maloney quickly responded with a letter to the editor. Travel Agent received a copy of the letter, and has republished it below.
In the May 14 edition, columnist Dana Milbank authored an article entitled "The Chair Recognizes … the Roaming Gnome."
By belittling the Senate Commerce Sub-Committee for holding hearings on "tourism not terrorism," Mr. Milbank condemns an entire industry as frivolous and unimportant.
Travel and tourism are important to all Americans and our struggling economy. This industry is currently the first or second largest employer in almost every state.
In the past year, we’ve paid $4 a gallon for gas, seen the Wall Street meltdown, and watched many innocent businesses get caught up in a media-created AIG maelstrom. These have devastated travel and tourism enterprises nationwide and forced thousands out of jobs. Now, with the H1N1 virus and an indecisive CDC, we have more carnage.
Travel and tourism’s heart and soul are countless small businesses throughout the country. Restaurants, small hotels, attractions and travel agents–they all pay taxes, send their kids to school and support their communities. They haven’t received a penny in bail outs or stimulus funds.
Travel is in the DNA of America. If you go back far enough, just about every one of us came from someplace else, and we haven’t stopped traveling since arriving on our hallowed shores.
Travel is a fundamental right of free people. The travel and tourism industry is as proud to serve our fellow Americans as the people who make cars or print newspapers. We work hard to show our country and its residents off in the best light, be it to our neighbors from across the country or across an ocean.
I'm glad the Senators disagree with Mr. Milbank.
William Maloney, CTC
CEO, American Society of Travel Agents