I was shocked but also pleasantly surprised when I heard
the news that two organizations typically on opposite ends of the political
spectrum were working together on an issue. The Tea Party Patriots and the Sierra
Club are cooperating to promote solar power in Georgia. They arrive at the same
place from slightly different angles, but at least they found common ground.

Don’t worry, this blog is not diving into politics. We're not even offering an opinion on the issue. We just think it’s good
news when two groups can identify an issue of common interest and work together to achieve change.

Can we please all agree that tourism is non-partisan.

Considering that tourism is among the largest industries
in the world and that even in our sluggish economy, the travel and tourism
sector is outperforming nearly every other sector, you would think
there would be unanimous support for promoting international visitation to the United States.
Sadly, it looks like the modest funding for our national tourism promotion
entity is headed for a partisan battle. Establishing the public-private
partnership known as Brand USA is one of the best decisions Congress has
made since the repeal of prohibition. Now, they're having second thoughts.

Some background for you. Until 2009, the United States
had no national level tourism promotion organzation working to bring visitors and their
money here. Other nations had figured out the incredible economic power of
tourism and were working diligently and successfully to promote themselves.
India, Spain, Australia, Thailand, Norway and The Bahamas are just a few that
invested heavily in excellent campaigns to lure international travelers. After
a lot of hard work by American tourism leaders, the Travel Promotion Act, which
established Brand USA was passed in 2009. This legislation — unlike many others
in the news, which shall remain nameless — did not create a new federal
bureaucracy nor did it cost the American taxpayer a nickel. It established a
public-private partnership with an impressive board of tourism heavyweights. It authorized matching funds that would come from a fee paid by international
visitors. That means that not only is the federal government not funding Brand
USA with your money, they are insisting that the organization get financial
support from state, local and even private sources before they'll match it.
This all sounds way too smart to be coming from our government, but it's true.
We can't let this one program that can actually bring money from outside our
country into local communities be in jeopardy. Let your member of Congress know
that you support Brand USA.

Predictions are generally mixed on the economy for 2013. Some
predict another recession caused by the combination of increased taxes, the
not-yet-completely-known costs of healthcare overhaul and the inability of
politicians to agree of major issues like the debt ceiling and deficit
reduction. Others predict modest but steady growth, urging us to heed the
lesson of the tortoise and the hare. So, when good news emerges, it’s worth a
moment to examine and savor it.

Recently, Travel Weekly, a well respected travel industry
source published its outlook for 2013. The industry appears to be poised for a
good year. Hotels, cruise lines and airlines have been shoring up the bottom line and
trying to match supply with demand. Let’s hope Travel Weekly is correct. The
impact of a healthy travel and tourism industry reaches into every part of the
American economy. Profits for the afore mentioned airlines, hotels and cruise
lines are just the tip of the iceberg (if you’ll excuse the cruise line pun).
Local inns, restaurants, attractions, retail shops and everyone who works for
or supplies these industries benefits. Travelers leave behind many millions
of dollars in local lodging and sales taxes, which means everyone benefits even
if they are not employed in what is typically considered a travel or tourism

Thanks, Travel Weekly for the good news. Let's hope that 12 months from now when we do our "Year in Review" that it also makes this Good News Monday blog.


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