Jonathan Tisch On The Travel Industry

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Jonathan Tisch is the Chairman of Loews Hotels. I once had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Tisch and chatting with him at the Loews Portofino Bay Resort about what makes his chain of luxury hotels so successful. I was impressed.

But my good opinion of him took a major leap upwards when I heard about a speech he gave recently at the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s (AHLA) so-called Legislative Action Summit in Washington, DC.

This confab seeks to win some share of mind with Congress in the hope that they will do something — anything — to help the industry. But since Congress does nothing . . . well, that’s the subject of another post on a very different type of blog.

ahla

The lodging industry meets Sen Richard Durbin. (Source: AHLA)

Now the upper echelons of our government are spectacularly ill-informed about the travel industry and it’s importance to the economy. President Obama went so far as to declare that travel agents are obsolete! Twice! And Congress has done little to boost the travel industry.

In his speech, Jonathan Tisch made a comparison that really hit home and perfectly illustrated how skewed Washington’s priorities are. He said . . .

Last year, President Obama invited a group of travel industry leaders to the White House to discuss policies designed to boost the travel industry and the overall economy.

This is very good progress.

But compare our standing to another important sector of our economy that gets a lot more attention in Washington – agriculture.

America’s agricultural sector supports about 1.8 million jobs compared to the nearly 8 million American travel directly employs, plus another 7 million indirectly.

Agricultural exports reached nearly $152.5 billion in 2014. Travel exports exceeded $222 billion.

By any rational measure, travel occupies a place in America’s economy at least on par with agriculture.

Yet think about the infrastructure of influence that’s been built up around the agricultural sector.

We have an entire U.S. Department of Agriculture – which was founded over 150 years ago at a time when about half of all Americans lived on farms. Today, only about 2 percent of Americans are farmers, yet the department operates about 240 subsidy programs … employs over 90,000 people in 7,000 offices across the U.S. … and spent over $150 billion in 2013.

Many of our competitors in the international travel market treat travel as a cabinet-level post. I’m not holding my breath for that. But I do believe that given travel’s powerful role in driving America’s economy, it’s fair for us to ask government to be our partner in growth. (H/T Skift)

That’s something to think about.

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Jonathan Tisch On The Travel Industry was last modified: October 21st, 2015 by Kelly Monaghan