Black Meetings and Tourism

July/Aug 2011

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BY MICHAEL BENNETT of revenues for almost every country on the planet. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council The (WTTC) the industry represents over nine percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs 258 million peo- ple worldwide representing eight percent of the global work- force. According to theWTTC’s broadest measure, the impact of travel and tourism activity exceeds $5.7 trillion annually. Here in the United States, according to the U.S. Travel Association, the industry generated $1.8 trillion in economic output in 2010 and directly generated $118 billion in tax rev- enues – not to mention the 14 million people the industry employs. Yet many of our elected officials don’t understand the economics of what we do until a fiscal crisis hits forcing them to make some rather Draconian budgets cuts. So, we feel it’s important to highlight those leaders who understand tourism/meetings and its importance to the global economy. We looked for leaders who support us with more than just eloquent words – although that does help at times, but we were more interested in deeds and action. What legislative agenda items do they support to advance our cause? Do they help with infrastructure issues such as building larger conven- tion centers, airport expansion or tourist attractions that show- case African-American themes as part of their overall package? Do they help with workforce or vendor/supplier diversity? travel, tourismand hospitality indus- try is one of themost dynamic indus- tries in today’s global economy. It’s typically one of the top three sources MICHAEL A. NUTTER MAYOR PHILADELPHIA, PA Mayor Nutter runs one of America’s most dynamic tourism and meetings/conventions destinations. Without his support many of the initiatives that helped Philadelphia set an all-time record for booked hotel rooms in 2010 – over fourmillion roomnights,might not have been possible. Like many of the elected leaders profiled below,Mayor Nutter served in key leadership positions within the tourism, hospitality and conven- tion industry before assuming his current office. From2003 – 2007, Nutter served as chairman of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority Board. In that position, the soon-to-be mayor crafted a groundbreaking labor-manage- ment agreement and helped to bring about the $786 million expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Center was completed in March and had convention business booked into the newly expanded facility even before the doors opened. Mayor Nutter is one of those leaders who “gets it,” – the importance of our industry to his city. “As Mayor of the fifth largest city in the country, the birthplace of our Nation, I am well aware of how important tourism is for this city’s economic vitality. Philadelphia has some of the best hospitality and tourism professionals in the industry, more than 56,000 working hard to attract leisure Black Meetings & Tourism July/August 2011: 45

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