The U.S. Travel Association has launched a grassroots campaign to develop Congressional champions who will support issues crucial to the $1.9 trillion travel industry.
The Travel Blitz campaign will enlist travel leaders across the country to build long-term relationships with their members of Congress through personal contacts and events at the state and congressional district level.
“Our team is regularly on Capitol Hill, but we can’t do it alone,” said Patricia Rojas, vice president of government affairs. “To make progress, the message has to come from travel communities across the country.”
Rojas said key issues facing the industry include visa reform, customs and entry issues, the importance of government meetings and the development of transportation and infrastructure to meet travel demand.
Planned as an ongoing program, the Travel Blitz campaign takes its theme from football, with U.S. Travel staff acting as “coaches” for community travel leaders in their efforts to recruit Congressional “champions.”
Campaign tactics include industry roundtables with local travel leaders and Congressional members; back-of-house tours of airports, hotels, attractions and convention and meeting facilities, and research on the industry’s contributions to the economy.
Toolkit provides tips, talking points
A Travel Blitz toolkit includes industry talking points as well as how-to advice for creating strategies to reach Congressional members, organizing events, building relationships and using social media and traditional media to highlight Congressional efforts to promote travel. The tool kit is on U.S. Travel’s website: www.ustravel.org.
“We have a lot of technology at our fingertips today to communicate with Congress but the face-to-face is the best way to communicate and get things done,” said Candice Knezevic, director of Grassroots and Industry Relations for U.S. Travel.
“This campaign is about going beyond the technology to develop those personal relationships that will turn members of Congress into avid champions.”
New Orleans out in front
Knezevic said the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau took the lead with a travel roundtable it held in January with Senator David Vitter (R-La.).
“Tourism and meetings and conventions are a $5 billion a year industry in New Orleans, but we still have to struggle for funding and recognition,” said Kelly Schultz, vice president of communications and public relations for the New Orleans CVB. Schultz called the roundtable a success.
Destination: Capitol Hill
The Travel Blitz campaign will be a part of the upcoming Destination: Capitol Hill, April 10 to 11 in Washington D.C. That event will bring numerous industry groups together under U.S. Travel’s umbrella to advocate for the industry. (See: Destination Capitol Hill: Industry Groups Unite to Advocate for Travel, Feb. 14, 2013.)