Second class forever

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I hate getting old. I'm achy, cranky and repetitive. I also repeat myself. I'm also a lot more cynical than I was in my youth. That trait was evident in my reaction to a report on a speech last week by Bill Marriott to the Foreign Policy Association in New York.

As usual, the Marriott family patriarch was persuasive, logical and passionate in his remarks on the need for the federal government to take a bigger role—actually, any positive role—in promoting and encouraging travel to the U.S. Sadly, I've heard this rap before, and I've written about it ad nauseum. Nothing has changed in 30 years, and nothing will change in the next 30 years.

For whatever reason, the only time the feds take any action with the tourism business in mind, it's one that hurts rather than helps. Decades ago, Congress stripped away the meager budget for promotion of tourism to overseas visitors. A succession of presidents only paid lip service to making a change. Now, of course, the interests of tourism have been caught up in the mantra of border security. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which begins to take effect in January, sounds like a program to encourage travel to the U.S., when in fact it's a de facto wall that will further inhibit travel to and from Mexico, the Caribbean and, most significantly, Canada.

As I've done in the past, I could beseech you to lobby your congressperson or support the AHLA's efforts, or write a letter to the editor. I could, but history has proven these efforts to be useless.

Or, you can follow the lead of a cranky, cynical and old editor, and just forget about. We'll always be a second-class industry.

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