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American Hotel & Lodging Association Responds to
Northern Trust Accusations by Members of Congress

"Jobs Are Not a Luxury"
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Washington, D.C., February 27, 2009 – Joe McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, today issued the following statement in response to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank’s call to return taxpayer dollars spent on promotional events and business lodging, and Sen. John Kerry’s legislative proposal that would ban businesses receiving government money from hosting or sponsoring conferences or events:

“As taxpayers, our industry is encouraged that companies receiving emergency government assistance are being held accountable for the funds they receive.

“But the mixed messages politicians like Rep. Frank and Senator Kerry are sending are troubling.  On one hand, they issue statements about the need to create jobs.  But on the other hand, they cry out when corporations spend money on publicity and meetings.  In the same way politicians run campaigns to advertise their candidacy, American corporations spend money on promotional activities to advertise their products or business.”

“To find a scapegoat for today’s economic problems, politicians are trying to point their fingers at an industry whose meetings and events component have created more than $100 billion in spending, and $16 billion in tax revenue for government.  That’s real economic growth.
“Meetings, business travel, and corporate sponsorships are all legitimate business activities.  These events provide jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans and they foster economic growth.  Jobs are not a luxury.

“In response to the negative rhetoric about travel, American businesses are canceling legitimate programs and activities being held at lodging facilities in communities across America.  And if there aren’t events being held, or guests using their room, our businesses are forced to cut back on their staffs.  How is that helping Americans keep their jobs in today’s tough economy?

“The members of our industry and others from the meetings, events, and incentive travel industries are taxpayers too.  We believe in fiscal responsibility.  The acceptable business guidelines we jointly issued earlier this month for companies receiving emergency funds should be embraced—or at least read—by policymakers before making ill-advised comments that begin costing American taxpayers and employees of our industry their jobs and their future.”

Serving the hospitality industry for nearly a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.  For more information, please visit www.ahla.com.

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Contact:

K. Robert Baylor
Director of Legislative Communications
American Hotel & Lodging Association
Phone: 202-289-3122
www.ahla.com 

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Also See: Guidlines for Meetings and Events Held by Companies that have Received Emergency Government Lending Issued by U.S. Travel Association, AH&LA and Others; Policies Support Prudent Use of Taxpayer Dollars while Supporting Meetings and Events Industry / February 2009
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