The resignation of Rep. Mark Foley was a major embarrassment to the Republican party and a minor embarrassment to the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, of which he was a co-chair, but it's not the first time a leader of our industry's Congressional caucus has left town in disgrace.

The founder of the original caucus nearly 30 years ago was a Democratic Congressman from South Carolina named John Jenrette, who resigned his seat in 1980 after being convicted of taking a bribe in an FBI sting operation. He did jail time.

Jenrette may have achieved even more lasting notoriety for confessing to the media that he and his wife had sex on the steps of the U.S. Capitol one night, an escapade that inspired the name of the comedy troupe The Capitol Steps, a group that survives to this day.

What is it about the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus that inspires such leadership?

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Think back, way back, to 2004 and 2005. Didn't it seem back then that Airbus was on top of the world?

It was test driving the mammoth A-380 aircraft and beating Boeing with orders and deliveries. Boeing, meanwhile, was mired in boardroom squabbles, spats with the government and a sex scandal in the executive suite. Boeing, it seemed, could do nothing right.

Now the A-380 is certifiably over budget and behind schedule, and Airbus and its parent company are mired in boardroom squabbles. Now it seems that Airbus can't do anything right.

It's a fickle business. 

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For those of us who remember the airline takeover battles of the 1980s, Ryanair's surprise takeover bid for Aer Lingus brought a tinge of nostalgia. The brash upstart's $2 billion move struck us as an Irish replay of Texas International's hostile takeover move against the much larger Continental, nearly 30 years ago.

Those were the days. Remember the ruinous People Express acquisition of Frontier? The Texas Air attempt at a hostile takeover of TWA, which sent TWA running into the arms of Carl Icahn? The brutal battle for Eastern?

Today's airline industry seems dull by comparison.

Kudos to Bermuda

A few weeks ago (Oct. 2, to be precise), we reported on some recent remarks of Ewart Brown, Bermuda's minister of transport and tourism, at an industry event in New York. We've been meaning to congratulate the minister for his candor in describing the recent ups and downs in Bermuda tourism.

"We rested on our laurels ...; our repeat visitors got old ...; our drive toward exclusivity made travelers feel excluded ...; Borrinnngggg."

Those are not the kinds of admissions we are accustomed to hearing from tourism ministers, so it was both shocking and refreshing to hear them from a policy maker of Brown's status.

Sometimes a key step in getting it right is understanding why and where it went wrong -- and admitting it out loud.

Here's hoping other destinations will find the courage and the candor to do so when things go wrong.

 

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For more details on this article, see "Tourism minister: Bermuda is reversing a 'negative spiral'."

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