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  American Hotel & Lodging Association Sends Letter to President Obama
Opposing Government Business Travel Cutbacks

Reductions Hurt Administration’s Goals of Saving Jobs and Revitalizing the Nation’s Economy
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Washington, D.C., April 24, 2009 – The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) delivered a letter to President Barack Obama today in response to his Administration’s announcement that the Veterans Administration is reducing its business travel expenditures to find budget savings.  This move, in response to the Obama Administration’s pledge to find $100 million in savings over the next 90 days, sets a bad precedent that will affect the lodging industry and our national economic recovery, as well as impede government operations.

Our industry is concerned that if other government departments follow the lead of the Veterans Administration and arbitrarily cut government business travel in an attempt to find quick budget savings, the economic recovery your Administration has promised America will be negatively affected and government operations will suffer as well.

While the Veterans Administration only spends a small portion of the federal travel budget, further cutbacks in this area will lead to hourly wage earner job losses in the $139 billion U.S. lodging industry, as well as in the larger $738 billion U.S. travel industry which employs 7.7 million workers across all its operations.  Business and government travelers help support the nation’s lodging and travel infrastructure while they perform their duties.

Arbitrarily cutting federal travel is a dangerous idea to push in times of a weak economy.   Federal travel dollars, while portrayed as a way to save money, actually cost more than they will save.  For each dollar not being spent on a federal travel program there is one less dollar that will be spent to hire new American lodging employees or purchase hotel-related products created by American workers.

Small businesses will be directly impacted by reflexively cancelling meetings.  Forty-four percent of the federal hotel spending was outside of the top 26 hotel brands.  Small businesses are the engine of economic growth in America, and if our smaller properties are the unintended victims of cost-savings measures, they will not be able to provide the new jobs your economic recovery programs are promising.  Some communities are more highly dependent on federal room travel nights, such as a hotel near a military base.  These properties and communities are very dependent on government travel, and to cut back on room nights will be devastating to those communities.”

The complete letter from AH&LA President and CEO Joseph McInerney is available at: http://www.ahla.com/PressRelease_Archive.aspx?shmid=178.

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 about AH&LA, visit www.ahla.com.

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Contact:

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

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Also See: American Hotel & Lodging Association Responds to Northern Trust Accusations by Members of Congress Jobs Are Not a Luxury / February 2009

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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