Loews Hotels and Company Chairman and CEO, Jonathan M. Tisch, has called on the travel and hospitality industry to unite to support pro-travel policies and protect against a second ‘lost decade’ for global travel to the U.S.
Tisch addressed these topics in his keynote address at the 39th Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in New York this week (June 5 local time).
Tisch called for the industry to exert its leadership in response to a flurry of recent policies that could impact international travel to the U.S., including calls for “extreme vetting,” executive orders on immigration, and the proposed elimination of Brand USA.
Tisch cited the anti-travel environment after 9/11 as a troubling precedent, when the U.S. lost over USD$600 billion in traveler spending and 467,000 jobs during a ‘lost decade’ for travel.
“Ending this ten-year slump required a united industry effort to push for pro-travel policies,” he said. “We learned some valuable lessons that we need to put into action again today.”
Tisch highlighted the need for the industry to communicate travel’s importance to new political leaders, including its impact on U.S. economic growth, jobs, and the trade deficit. He noted that travel generated USD$246 billion in U.S. exports last year, cutting nearly USD$90 billion off America’s trade deficit.
“Travel drives the U.S. economy,” Tisch said. “It’s our job to engage the new leadership in Washington to make sure they understand the role we can play in achieving our shared economic goals.
“If the Trump administration really wants to cut the trade deficit, they’ll need our help.”
According to Tisch, shaping the promised USD$1 trillion infrastructure investment program opens another leadership opportunity.
“We need to make sure improving our aviation infrastructure – our airports, runways and other essentials – is front and center,” said Tisch.
“We can help achieve these goals by making the travel industry a major player in the debate over American infrastructure investment.”
Tisch also strongly defended Brand USA, which was zeroed out in the Trump administration’s new budget proposal. Eliminating Brand USA “makes no sense on a policy level,” Tisch said. “It’s completely at odds with the administration’s own economic goals.”
“Eliminating Brand USA will increase the federal deficit by $510 million over three years. And by reducing international travel to the U.S., it will also widen America’s trade deficit,” said Tisch.
Tisch called on the travel industry to take a coordinated, proactive stance on these imperatives: “For years and years, we fought hard to get a seat at the table. Now it’s time to use that position… to protect the gains we’ve made. To seize the opportunities that lie ahead. And to launch travel on its next phase of growth.”