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TUE | March 24
L.A. Export Series: Session 6
Legal Do's and Don'ts
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Building a Green Community: A Conversation About Community Energy Planning
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Like a doctor treating a patient, Congress must be careful to do no additional harm to the struggling travel and tourism industry. The current backlash against corporate meetings and events is not only bad for business; it also threatens up to 1 million jobs and more than $100 billion in annual spending for our economy.
When many Americans think of corporate travel recently, the image is of auto company executives flying their $50 million private jets to Washington, D.C. to ask for a federal bailout or reports of five-star resort conferences hosted by recipients of Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding. The populist backlash against these examples is understandable since so many Americans have watched home values and retirement savings plummet over the past year – or find themselves out of a job entirely.
However, there is an important distinction between ensuring that TARP recipients are careful stewards of their public financing and discouraging all corporate travel or business conferences entirely. The former must be subject to vigilant government and taxpayer oversight while the latter actually serves as an impediment to our economic recovery.
Travel, conferences and corporate sponsorships of special events are significant economic drivers. They account for 15 percent of all U.S. travel supporting 1 million jobs and generating $16 billion in tax revenue. Los Angeles is especially dependent on the meetings industry, which accounts for 250,000 jobs here in our city alone.
In addition to the pure economic benefit of corporate travel, there are also the intangible products of these experiences. Special events and conferences connect job creators with one another and facilitate networking that is at the heart of business growth and development. Many include training and education components as well as venues to share new ideas and best practices. It’s those important connections that help drive the innovation that in turn drives our economy.
The oversight of TARP dollars for corporate travel must be developed to ensure that the money is used wisely and in the best interest of the taxpayer. It must also be done in a way that erases the ill-conceived backlash against smart corporate travel that helps companies prosper while infusing much-needed money into our economy and the millions of jobs that it supports.
President Obama echoed that sentiment when he invited travel and tourism CEOs to the White House recently to express his support for the industry. Now it’s time for Congress to do the same.
And that's The Business Perspective.
Gary L. Toebben
President & CEO
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
The Business Perspective is a weekly opinion piece by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Samuel Garrison, Vice President of Public Policy.
Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
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