Jonathan Tisch and the Travel Industry Fight Back

March 5th, 2009

Travel Industry Fights Back
by Alexis Glick

Loews Hotel Chairman & CEO Jonathan Tisch joined me this morning to talk about the “corrosive Washington rhetoric” that has been aimed at the travel and tourism industry. It was a fascinating discussion about the messages being sent by Washington DC about business related conferences and how lawmakers are crippling an industry that employs 17 million people in this country.

Recently the president of the United States at a town hall meeting in Indiana made a comment about companies receiving bailout funds and why they should not be using those funds to make business trips to the Las Vegas strip. It was in reaction to a Wells Fargo planned conference following a $25 billion injection from the government. Wells Fargo subsequently canceled the conference. The president’s comments ignited a firestorm of criticism. The day after I talked to the mayor of Las Vegas Oscar Goodman about it and he was still outraged. Wounds have been healed but the industry in reaction to those comments has not. Dozens of trips and business conferences across the country have been canceled as a result. In fact Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts recently said on an investor conference call that while the president didn’t intend to stigmatize the convention and meeting business, a $5 million convention at his resort was canceled directly as a result of what the president said and it was not a company that received taxpayer funds.

Jonathan Tisch and nine other CEO’s recently sent an open letter to members of Congress. It was posted on multiple websites. He has yet to receive a response from any Washington DC lawmakers. Take a look at what he had to say. He was terrific and raised some very valuable points about what is happening to the tourism industry. Don’t assume that conferences are all boondoggles and that every company, including those who don’t need taxpayer funds, are better without them.

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