Don't Count on Washington to Save Us

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Whew! Do you feel better after hearing President Obama's jobs speech last night? If the early losses on Wall Street and in overseas markets are any indication, the answer is no. Whether you're a liberal or conservative, or somewhere in the middle, it's hard to believe anything good is going to get done in the current gridlocked political system of ours.

Most Democrats, of course, liked the President's plan to help create jobs and stimulate the economy, but Republicans did not. Could it work? Would it really be paid for? And might it ultimately lead to more consumers and companies traveling and being willing and able to spend money on hotel rooms?

Who knows? Maybe we'll find out, or maybe a better solution will come along, but odds are this is going to continue to drag on through the election season and little will get done in Washington.

So buckle up for a continued bumpy ride. Most economists still believe a double-dip recession is unlikely, although a year ago, we weren't even talking about that possibility. The good news is despite the shaky economy, consumers are continuing to travel and occupancy and rate are growing. But if the industry learned anything after the bubble burst in 2008, make sure you're preparing for not only the best-case scenario, but also the worst case.

And keep beating the drum along with the U.S. Travel Association to improve the U.S. visa system and boost tourism business here. Remind your legislator that in-bound tourism brings money and jobs to this country. In fact, if the data from the USTA is correct, since 9/11, the U.S. has missed out on 78 million visitors, $606 billion and 450,000 jobs. It's not sexy, and it's not going to happen overnight, but fixing that shouldn't be a partisan issue or too costly, and it will create jobs and stimulate the economy.

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