There's still time to participate in next week's National Travel & Tourism Week activities and U.S. Travel Rally Day on May 8, and there are good reasons to make the effort.
For one thing, politicians have short memories, but they perk up during election years. That makes this an excellent time to remind them that economic contributions of travel and tourism are not just entries on a spreadsheet; they are felt every day by real people and real companies working in their districts.
Reinforcing this message among citizens, politicians and our travel industry colleagues is the whole purpose of National Travel & Tourism Week, and that purpose is doubly important in this election year because travel is in the headlines again, and not in a good way.
The scandal over the General Services Administration's lavish spending on its 2010 Western Regions Conference has triggered another backlash on Capitol Hill, where legislators voted to impose a spending freeze on government travel and restrictions on meetings and conferences.
As U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow recently warned his members, "During this election year we can expect the value of meetings and conferences to be a visible political football."
Sadly, travel appears to be have become a particularly popular political football in recent years, despite the industry's best efforts to keep policymakers educated.
Not for nothing did U.S. Travel choose Vote Travel as the theme of this year's event. It's the theme of U.S. Travel's ongoing public awareness campaign -- a campaign that may have to go on and on and on.
More information on National Travel & Tourism Week is available at www.ustravel.org