Congress should adopt clear guidelines for companies receiving federal assistance and avoid a witch-hunt mentality that punishes working Americans, according to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. U.S. Travel issued a statement in response to recent accusations against Northern Trust, a bank that has received federal money but rewarded staff with an incentive trip, by the House Financial Services Committee. The committee called for the company to return taxpayer dollars (see http://financialservices.house.gov).
"We agree that companies receiving federal assistance must be accountable to taxpayers for responsibly using public funds," the statement read. "But, we are perilously close to falling into a witch-hunt mentality in which working Americans are unfairly punished. For every case of wasteful spending, we are seeing scores of instances in which the game of 'gotcha' has forced businesses to cancel legitimate activities that would have grown their bottom lines and generated jobs and economic growth for local communities.
"Policymakers must realize that meetings and events are the lifeblood of local communities across the country," the statement continued. "It is critical to protect legitimate travel spending and the millions of American jobs it creates. Meetings and events are responsible for 15 percent of all travel and create more than $100 billion in spending and $16 billion in tax revenue.
"Leaders from key organizations representing the meetings, events and incentive travel industries united to issue guidelines on acceptable business travel practices to companies that have received emergency government lending. We urge members of Congress to embrace these guidelines and protect American jobs."
For more information, or to view the travel industry's model board policy guidelines visit www.ustravel.org.