GBTA’s 2014 Legislative Symposium is underway. This morning more than 90 GBTA members from across the country gathered to hear Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) before they head off to Capitol Hill for a day of meetings with their elected representatives. Rep. Heck thanked the group for our support of the Jolt Act and encouraged the audience to seek additional sponsors of the bill.
The Symposium kicked off yesterday with Diane Bradley, Chair of GBTA’s Government Relations Committee, welcoming attendees and reminding them that their efforts will drive home to our elected officials how critical business travel is to the economy. It is you, our members, who know this firsthand and are the best people to tell Congress that business travel drives business growth.
GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick told members that advocating on behalf of the industry is about lowering barriers so people can travel more efficiently – and always safely – around the world.
The highlight of the afternoon was a visit from Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) who is the Republican co-chair of the U.S. Travel & Tourism Caucus. He talked about the importance of travel and tourism and why he supports the Jolt Act and expanding the Visa Waiver Program. Rep. Bilirakis said the goal of the Caucus is to form a national policy that promotes travel to and within the United States.
The rest of the afternoon was rounded out with informative talks from Cornerstone Government Affairs providing an overview of Congress as well as projections for after November. They also did a deep dive into issues impacting the business travel industry including TSA security fees, the Passenger Facility Charge, the JOLT Act and the INVITE Act. Discussions followed about how the meetings with representatives would go and John Keast of Cornerstone reminded everyone that advocacy is about building a relationship – not a once a year proposition.
An evening reception was highlighted by remarks from Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. Sen. Schatz told attendees that what he loves about tourism and travel is that it knows no ideology and is one of just a few issues that still enjoys good, deep and broad bipartisan support.
“When we support travel and tourism, we create an economic incentive to take care of what is special about our hometowns,” said Sen. Schatz. He added that working in travel is not just a gig, it’s what you do and who you are and pledged his support for the industry.
The day’s events provided a great backdrop for today’s meetings on Capitol Hill. Remember you can make a difference for the business travel industry and your voice matters. Follow today’s events on Twitter with the hashtag: #GBTALegislative14 and if you couldn’t make it this year, we hope you’ll join us next year.