Cruise industry aims to wield greater influence on Capitol Hill

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FORT LAUDERDALE — Travel and tourism is a $40 billion industry in the U.S., and it’s high time for the government to sit up and take notice, said Christine Duffy, CLIA's president and CEO.

"We are one of very few countries without a tourism secretary or representation at the cabinet level," she told some 2,000 attendees at CLIA's Cruise3sixty event on Friday. "We need a seat at the policy table."

It was Duffy’s first keynote address to the CLIA membership since she assumed the top post early this year.

Duffy pointed to research that indicates the levels of influence various industries exert over lawmakers in Washington. Financial services takes the lead with the greatest amount of influence (80%), followed by energy, manufacturing and others. Travel and tourism comes in at less than 20%.

"They believe what we do is frivolous," said Duffy. "We have to take responsibility for getting our message out. If we don’t tell people, who will?"

She said CLIA’s goals focus on elevating the profession, working toward further market penetration for cruisers and advocacy in Washington. Progress is being made in all three areas, Duffy said.

For example, the Travel Promotion Act was passed in 2010, and it addresses, among other things, financing for inbound marketing. But much more needs to be done, Duffy said.

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