Jonathan M. Tisch, Chairman of Loews Hotels, has used his keynote address at the 38th annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in New York this week (June 6) to call on the global hospitality industry to advocate for smart public policies in the face of disruptive forces roiling the travel industry today – high-tech innovation, rising global travel concerns, and troubling political rhetoric.
Amid industry change and traveller worries, Tisch warned against the “fear-filled rhetoric” that has begun to cloud the national political discourse.
“It was not long ago that we saw that same mentality as a reaction to 9/11,” he said.
“But we learned that pulling back from the rest of the world is not an option. Adopting a Fortress America mentality did us much more harm than good.”
Tisch said the U.S. lost nearly 70 million visitors to global competitors in the decade following 9/11, costing the U.S. economy USD$500 billion in traveller spending and more than 440,000 American jobs.
According to Tisch, trusted traveler programs such as the Visa Waiver Program have played an integral role in welcoming millions of international visitors while strengthening national security.
But Tisch said the program could benefit from a name change to The Secure Travel Partnership.
“That name reflects the true value of the program: the fact that it raises the international standard for passports and other identification, fosters cooperation among international law enforcement agencies, and is a vital link in the chain to make America more secure,” he said.
Tisch also stressed the economic benefits trusted traveler programs continue to generate for the U.S. economy.
“In the four years after South Korea joined the Visa Waiver Program, visits to the U.S. increased by more than 60 percent and have continued to rise ever since,” he said.
“Spending by South Korean visitors jumped by 52 percent.”
He also noted that global epidemics such as the Zika virus continue to pose threats to both travelers and the hospitality industry.
Citing growing international media coverage and the patchwork of state responses to the last Ebola outbreak, Tisch stressed the need for a coordinated, industry response and stronger connections with public health experts.
“To push back and separate fact from fiction, we need a coordinated industry effort to respond thoughtfully and effectively to global health risks without promoting undue alarm,” he said.
Tisch emphasized that the travel industry is most effective when it is united.
“Together, we have a strong voice,” he said. “If we stay united, we can seize new opportunities for growth, build our power and influence, and create an even more thriving, more prosperous industry.”
HM flew to New York with United Airlines, which flies three times daily from Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) to Los Angeles and onwards to New York City. HM recommends flying in Business Class, which features flatbed seats, inflight WiFi, premium Australian and American wines, hundreds of hours of entertainment on demand and excellent service. Visit www.united.com.au