AH&LA Sends Letter to Obama, Opposes Business Travel Cuts

As part of its pledge to find $100 million in federal budget savings during the next 90 days, the Obama Administration recently announced that the Veterans Administration is reducing its business travel expenditures. In response, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has written a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern over the impact that further cuts could have on America's travel and hospitality industries.

"Our industry is concerned that if other government departments follow the lead of the Veterans Administration and arbitrarily cut government business travel in an attempt to find quick budget savings, the economic recovery your Administration has promised America will be negatively affected and government operations will suffer," the association wrote in its letter, which was signed by AH&LA President and CEO Joseph McInerney.

According to McInerney, by canceling business travel for federal employees—in many cases, presumably, to meetings, conferences and events—the government is doing more harm than good.

"For each dollar not being spent on a federal travel program there is one less dollar that will be spent to hire new American lodging employees or purchase hotel-related products created by American workers," McInerney continued.

Because 44 percent of federal hotel spending is with properties outside the nation's top 26 hotel brands, the government's business travel cuts are especially likely to harm small businesses, AH&LA told Obama.

"Small businesses will be directly impacted by reflexively canceling meetings," McInerney concluded. "Small businesses are the engine of economic growth in America, and if our smaller properties are the unintended victims of cost-savings measures, they will not be able to provide the new jobs your economic programs are promising. Some communities are more highly dependent on federal room travel nights, such as a hotel near a military base. These properties and communities are very dependent on government travel, and to cut back on room nights will be devastating to those communities."

To read AH&LA's entire letter, visit www.ahla.com.