Travel Industry to Feds: Avoid the Fiscal Cliff

On behalf of the U.S. travel industry, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued a statement on Tuesday urging President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders to agree on a "balanced approach" that averts the so-called "fiscal cliff" before the end of 2012.

"The U.S. travel industry is a national economic driver, supporting 14.4 million American jobs and generating $1.9 trillion in economic output," Dow said. " However, the looming combination of indiscriminate spending cuts and higher taxes for middle-class Americans will have a profound impact on travel spending, and the economy broadly, should Washington fail to act."

According to Dow, the fiscal cliff — a nightmare scenario consisting of mass tax increases and automatic spending cuts following the simultaneous expiration of several laws on Jan. 1, 2013, which could lead to a second recession, economists warn — will cause individuals and businesses to delay travel plans, which could force the industry to eliminate jobs.

"The uncertainty over the economic impact of the fiscal cliff and potentially significant tax increases is delaying decisions about travel," Dow continued. "If unresolved, millions of American families may be left without the means to take a vacation and businesses are certain to roll back their travel spending. Less travel will affect communities from coast-to-coast with small businesses paying the highest price. Reductions in travel will force employers to make difficult decisions in a labor-intensive industry suffering from fewer customers."

In addition to employment, going over the fiscal cliff would hurt travel infrastructure. "The indiscriminate spending cuts scheduled to take effect next year will also deter travelers by eroding our nation's travel infrastructure," Dow said. "Massive cuts to the budgets of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Highway Administration will mean fewer security officers to process travelers through busy airports, continued flight delays and fewer critical bridge and highway repairs. Poor travel experiences today will impact decisions to travel far into the future — whether for American families or international visitors, who spent $153 billion during visits to the U.S. in 2011."

In order to avoid fiscal-cliff consequences, the U.S. Travel Association advocates for a compromise that: removes uncertainty from the markets; reduces the country's budget deficit with long-term approaches to entitlement spending and other debt drivers; and reforms the tax code to encourage American competitiveness.

Concluded Dow: "We stand ready to work with leaders in both parties on a sustainable path forward — one that averts the cliff today, boosts consumer and business confidence, and ensures continued economic growth in the future."

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