Policymakers on Capitol Hill are increasingly sympathetic towards the meetings industry – though more needs to be done to reinforce the importance of business tourism, according to a panel of experts at trade show AIBTM.
Despite the ‘GSA Scandal’, the recent exposure of excessive spending by the US General Services Administration in Las Vegas back in 2010, the work done by the 2009 ‘Keep America Meeting’ campaign had improved the image of meetings and events Stateside.
The keynote session at AIBTM (Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition), currently taking place in Baltimore, saw Roger Rickard, PCMA’s advisor on advocacy, line up a panel of heavyweights with direct access to key government officials, including Gail Adams, director of intergovernmental and external affairs for the Department of the Interior; Tom Tucker, chairman of the Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus; Jim Clarke, senior vice president of public policy at the ASAE (American Society of Association Executives); and Geoff Freeman, executive vice president and COO for the US Travel Association.
All recognised the GSA affair and budget cuts may reduce government travel, and agreed new legislation could be harmful to the meetings industry. But they sense more support at White House level and urged the audience to continue to put out the message that meetings really do matter.
“Remain engaged. Don’t give up on us,” said Adams. “We are new to this in terms of our National Tourism Policy so keep us aware.”