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Meetings mean business

Dear Editor:

Blacklisting businesses that received bailout funds for their travel practices has scored elected officials some easy political points, but it is also encouraging other companies concerned about policymaker scorn to cancel trips, putting jobs at risk in Aspen/Snowmass and other tourism-driven communities across America. In adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward suspected corporate excess, policymakers in Washington have been demonizing companies for legitimate travel to meetings and events hosted here in our communities, putting local jobs and the tax revenue generated by business travel at risk.

In 2008, nearly 200,000 travel-related jobs were eliminated, and 247,000 travel-related jobs are on the chopping block this year. Without the 1 million jobs that meeting and convention travel generates, our national unemployment rate would jump from 7.6 percent to 8.2 percent. Hardworking Americans who cater to business travelers will pay the price. Bellmen, maids, wait staff and other hourly wage employees are the first to lose their jobs when businesses stay away because of Congress’s political grandstanding, and they are sending a message that Aspen/Snowmass is “closed for business,” which has the potential to further adversely affect the fiscal health our communities.

You can help make a difference with a click of your mouse. Please visit http://www.keepamericameeting.org and sign the online petition to advise legislators nationwide that we need them to take the proactive step of publicly supporting the meetings and events industry. Other actions and easy tools to express your opinion to the White House and to local representatives Michael Bennet, Mark Udall and John T. Salazar are available on http://www.meetingsmeanbusiness.com.

Economic recovery and job creation is tied to a robust travel industry. Scaring companies to eliminate travel from their business plan will further restrict growth and hinder recovery at a time they are needed most. Members of Congress who attack corporate meetings and events should remember that good public policy addresses reality, not rhetoric, and ensure they are protecting our communities first.

Debbie Braun

president, Aspen Chamber Resort Association

Susan Hamley

director, Snowmass Tourism Office


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