People in South Carolina, which holds its presidential primaries later this month, are seeing billboards highlighting travel's importance to the economy--part of the Travel Industry Association's new "Change the Debate" campaign to bring industry issues into the presidential election. According to a recent survey in South Carolina and Florida (which also holds primaries this month), more than 60 percent of likely primary voters do not believe the 2008 candidates have adequately addressed a travel system that is increasingly viewed as flawed and frustrating.
"We've hit a tipping point," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of TIA. "Voters believe that government can do far more to improve the travel system and they are looking for a candidate who realizes that they too have a schedule to keep."
Billboards are up in Myrtle Beach and Columbia. Travel industry leaders are also in South Carolina, where a Republican presidential candidates' debate takes place Thursday in Myrtle Beach, to discuss the critical contribution travel makes to the U.S. economy. TIA will be working with more than 400 convention and visitor bureaus across the country to highlight the American travel system's crisis and need for national leadership.
"Outdated tracking systems, delays and congestion, combined with a 17 percent decline in overseas visitation to the United States since 9/11, have taken their toll on the American traveler, the economy and the U.S. image abroad," Dow said. "We're taking our campaign on the road to make sure the candidates know that improving the travel process is both good policy and good politics." Visit www.tia.org. (DB)