(un)convention(al) visitor bureaus

Few phrases are as trite as "thinking outside the box" and yet it bears repetition particularly in the tour and travel industry given the warp speed with which changes come about. One (seemingly unlikely) group that is thinking far ahead and out of the box is the Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. There is a wire report on how this "influential Florida tourism group is now endorsing oil and gas
drilling at least 30 miles off its shore, an about-face for the tourist
industry and a harbinger of the controversial policy Congress will
likely debate in the new year".

Previously Florida tourist groups had been vehemently opposed to drilling off
their shores, but the Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus
now says it's essential for the state's economy.
"Changes in
global energy markets have affected the price and supply of oil and
natural gas and subsequently may have a future impact on Florida's
tourism industry," the association said in a three-page policy
statement. The group said a comprehensive, long-term energy policy, including
"increased U.S. domestic oil and natural gas production, is essential
to maintain a healthy, vital Florida tourism industry." Tourism is one
of the biggest money-earners for the Sunshine State's gross domestic
product, pitching in around $66 billion in 2007. The group did put in some riders to their endorsement to avoid giving a carte-blanche to the drill crazy crowd. These include "zero discharge of certain drilling fluids and that the federal government would share royalty and lease revenue with the state".

Far sighted and constructive thinking among tourism promotion agencies is a welcome change from the passive approach of mainly emphasizing tourist attractions although the latter too is clearly welcome as in initiatives such as these by the Greater Miami Visitors and Convention Bureau. What is not welcome is profligacy and unaccountability as in this case involving the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau where the former chief executive walked away, upon retirement with a Wall Street like package of $744,441.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.