WASHINGTON, DC (August 21, 2008) -The Travel Industry Association (TIA) today unveiled a bold campaign to encourage Senators Obama and McCain to detail their plans for improving the domestic and international travel process during their upcoming party conventions. The multimedia initiative, part of TIA’s year-long “Change the Debate” campaign, targets voters in the battleground and travel-dependent areas of Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada. Voters in these areas will be asked to grade the candidates’ acceptance speeches based on how well they address issues of interest to the travel community.
“Travel is vital to the American economy,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association. “Today’s deteriorating air travel system, skyrocketing fuel prices and poorly-communicated security policies are deterring domestic and international inbound travel and costing the US economy billions of dollars. It is time for presidential leadership on these critical issues.”
Two million fewer overseas travelers visited the United States in 2007 than in 2000, despite an extraordinarily weak dollar and a worldwide boom in international travel. The decline in overseas arrivals since 9/11 has cost America nearly $140 billion in visitor spending, 230,000 jobs and countless public diplomacy opportunities. On the domestic side, a recent TIA survey revealed that air travel delays, cancellations and inefficient security screening led travelers to avoid 41 million trips over the past year, resulting in a greater than $25 billion hit to the US economy. With an economy that may be tipping into recession, America cannot afford this level of disruption.
Working with Mike Murphy, a nationally-recognized communications strategist, TIA’s initiative involves a series of print ads in each market supported by an Internet grading system. The first print ad will establish the issue for Orlando and Las Vegas voters with the message “We are listening” aimed at the candidates. The second ad will reinforce the “We are listening” message with “We’ll be listening … and grading” the candidates’ convention speeches. The third ad will be the report card that viewers can use to assign a grade to each candidate’s speech.
Polling shows that voters in Nevada and Florida overwhelmingly believe that travel and tourism is important to their economies, and for the first time, they are looking for a candidate to address these critical issues.