World Travel & Tourism Summit 2006
Washington, DC. April. 7th, 2006 ---- Next week the World Travel and Tourism Summit 2006 will roll into Washington to wine and dine the well heeled leaders of Big Business Tourism. No Rubber Chicken dinners for this crowd, just the best, the very best.
Their Press Office is being very secretive about which key figures from the Administration, or Congress will be attending, and putting on a positive face for America. Chances are they will be few and far between. The list of speakers, or networkers if there are no formal presentations, is very impressive, providing an outstanding platform of the very rich and right wing of the world of catering to the well heeled traveling public. But where are the people who really have their fingers on the pulse of tourism. Certainly not in the line up from the TIA, The Travel Industry of America, that right wing advocacy lobbying group here in Washington. You will not hear criticism of tourism under Bush from this crowd.
And New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The rebuilding after the Tsunami. Go away please, you will upset the well heeled from enjoying their sponsored luncheons. What an opportunity to provide a little light at the end of the tunnel for the millions who depend on tourism. Instead we have a Junket and happy talk from the wrong people.
I don't have much time for the political "Associations" here in DC. There are around 1800 of them and they serve both as a parking place for failed political staffers, or a ladder between being an Intern or Staffer on the Hill to higher political office. Few have their members interests at heart.
Many Associations are created to provide a legitimate sounding platform for their founders to pontificate and posture their political opinions to the receptive media. It sounds better coming from the President of the Global Mouthwash Association than Joe Smith.
I would have preferred the World Travel and Tourism Summit to have been held in New Orleans and focused on rebuilding millions of lives after a disaster than a Junket tour of the best eating places in Washington, DC. It stinks of Jack Abramoff.
But that would have meant that the TIA would have had to accept that poor people too need travel and tourism, and that there are other hotels beside the Marriott. But New Orleans isn't within the Washington Beltway, and so does not come under the banner of "One Industry, One Voice" because these urchins can't afford $1000 a plate and therefore can't have a voice in Washington.
I an sad that the World Travel and Tourism Summit 2006 is a missed opportunity to address the plight of millions around the world, including across a wide sweep of the United States, in boosting the leisure and tourism industries. But that would have meant looking reality straight in the face, which this industry finds unpalatable. Instead it's safer to talk about sweeping generalities that are meaningless and don't have measurable metrics. The theme "Open Mind, Open World" is pure theater considering the bush Administration has made it so difficult to legally visit the United States that the numbers are dropping significantly. You can always slip across the Mexican border, they make that as easy as possible.
Fortunately there will no outcry from the media as TIA is very bad at "Getting the Message Out" to the media. But that is not what the United States needs to grow a more vibrant and productive Tourism Industry, and wide sweeping NeoCon generalizations about "Visions" got us into the mess of Iraq and Afghanistan. On the heels of the Abramoff Scandal this meeting seems like just another excuse to bring CEO's to Washington on an expenses paid Junket. I look forward to being proved wrong, and that clear initiatives follow to address the failing tourism across America.
I also look forward to seeing President Bush and Vice President Cheney give this very important global subject the same amount of time they allocated to pander to AIPAC. I also look forward to hearing from Congressional leaders willing to be heard and support the devastated tourism industries along the Gulf Coast, and in many other areas around the world.
On the other hand it could just be the Grand Finale of Jack Abramoff style Junkets created by the rich and famous of the global travel and tourism industries. We will see next week.