In tough statements that cited diminished job creation and negative economic consequences, the U.S. Travel Association voiced its opposition to proposed increases to aviation taxes. In a letter to Congressional leaders, the U.S.Travel's president and CEO, Roger J. Dow, rejected any proposal that raises aviation taxes as a means to "pay for" the payroll-tax cut extension.
"Raising aviation taxes as a 'pay-for' is a budgetary sleight-of-hand that works in the halls of Congress but discourages travel, hampers job creation and slows economic growth in the real world," said Dow. "I urge you to oppose any proposal that raises aviation taxes as a means to 'pay for' the tax cut extension or to fund government programs unrelated to travel."
Dow cited a Wall Street Journal report that Members of Congress and the Administration continue to propose increases to aviation taxes as a method to pay for deficit reduction or government programs unrelated to travel. Increasing aviation taxes will only further discourage companies from shipping their products, sales forces from expanding their markets, families from visiting their loved ones and countless other activities that create jobs and accelerate economic recovery.
"Travel is not tobacco. Treating it as such demonstrates a lack of recognition for the enormous tax burden travelers confront today and the benefits that travel brings to communities across the country," said Dow. "Today, the average tax on a commercial airline ticket is 20 percent, which is higher than so-called 'sin' taxes on alcohol, tobacco or firearms that are levied to discourage their use."
From February 2010 to October 2011, travel industry employment increased 2.9 percent – more than one and one-half times faster than the 1.7 percent growth in employment for the rest of the economy, Dow said. Additionally, the 209,000 jobs created by the travel industry since February 2010 has accounted for 9.2 percent of the 2.3 million jobs created during the past 20 months.
"The 7.4 million (and growing) employees of the travel industry cannot afford Washington policies that punish Americans for traveling," said Dow. "Our $1.8 trillion U.S. travel industry remains a rare bright spot in the U.S. economy that is experiencing modest growth, adding new jobs and serving as an economic multiplier throughout the country."