Tourism is good.

We come to work every day to produce this newspaper in the belief that our readers, the people engaged in the business of travel and tourism, are engaged in a worthy pursuit.

It is taken as an article of faith around here that tourism promotes peace and understanding. Yeah, sure, it's what we do and it's fun and it pays the bills, but travel is a fundamentally positive experience. It's good for you. It's good for business. It's good for the country.

Over the years the issue has come up about travel to this or that trouble spot, and our answer is always the same: The government should tell us where safety and security issues make travel unwise, for the good of the travelers. However, any law that otherwise restricts the right of U.S. citizens to travel is a disease, not a cure.

We can think of few circumstances where our government would be justified in categorically refusing to permit its citizens to travel to a particular country on the basis that U.S. foreign policy goals, as opposed to the traveler's safety, would be compromised.

We said it for the Soviet Union, for its client states in eastern Europe, for China, for Vietnam, and now it's time to say it for Cuba. It's past time.

We regret to report that this does not appear to be the prevailing view in the House of Representatives, where our lawmakers seem intent on allowing limited agricultural exports with one hand, while closing the door to any expansion of tourism with the other.

This is the work of ideologues. They've been wrong before and they're wrong now, and we can only hope that cooler heads will prevail in the Senate.

Tourism did not bring about the collapse of the Soviet regime, and it did not bring down the Berlin Wall, but it did no harm and, hey, some of those kids on the wall were from out of town.

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