Travel industry leaders from across the country met yesterday for the first time with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to discuss issues affecting the travel industry, including swine flu preparation and efforts to welcome more international visitors to the United States. The meeting was facilitated by the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, chaired by Congressmen Sam Farr (D-CA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). .
“We appreciate Secretary Napolitano’s interest in ensuring travel security is coupled with facilitation,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Her support of the model ports initiative and the Visa Waiver program demonstrate an active interest in helping international visitors come to our country. The travel community remains committed to working with Secretary Napolitano to continue improving the entry process, as well as ensuring responsible communication and preparation to minimize the impact of the H1N1 flu outbreak on travel.”
The travel industry employs 7.7 million Americans and generates more than $770 billion in spending annually.
“Travel plays a critical role in driving America’s economic recovery,” said Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels and Chairman Emeritus of the U.S. Travel Association. “We look forward to working with Secretary Napolitano and her colleagues to ensure the best possible decisions that meet our security needs while taking into account those of the travel community.”
Participants in the meeting were: Representative Sam Farr (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus; Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO), Co-Chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus; Roger Dow, President and CEO of U.S. Travel Association; Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels and Chairman Emeritus, U.S. Travel Association; Emily Cassell, Director of Arlington Convention & Visitors Service; Simon Gros, Vice President of Travelport; John Groundwater, Executive Director of Passenger Vessel Association; Bill Hardman, President and CEO of Southeast Tourism Society; John Meehan, Executive Vice President and COO of Air Transportation Association of America; Patrick Madden, President of Sister Cities International; Jonas Neihardt, Senior Vice President of Hilton Hotels Corporation; Adam W. Salerno, Senior Manager of U.S. Chamber of Commerce;
Honorable James Santini, Legislative Counsel of National Tour Association and Colin Tooze, Vice President of American Society of Travel Agents.