The 4th annual U.S. Travel Association Travel Leadership Summit was held this year in Washington D.C. on Sept. 16-17, where representatives from select states across the U.S. were briefed on the latest developments on the industry’s legislative priorities. The event drew hundreds of travel leaders from across the nation, including Montana, in a coordinated support effort to support the passage of the Travel Promotion Act and other key issues for the travel and tourism industry. Betsy Baumgart, travel director for the Montana Office of Tourism, felt that this national collaborative effort is a very effective tool in building the awareness of the power of travel and tourism to the overall U.S. economy.
Prior to the summit, the Western States Tourism Policy Council co-sponsored with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) and the Southeast Tourism Society a policy forum titled “Stimulating Economic Vitality and Resource Conservation in Gateway and Tribal Communities.” Secretary for the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary for Transportation Ray LaHood began the session with insights into the new administration’s plans relating to national public lands and gateway and tribal communities. The forum included several panels varying in perspective from federal agencies, state tourism offices, gateway and tribal communities, as well as non-governmental organizations. Conclusions from the forum sessions will be compiled for future policy level discussion and direction to be reviewed at the next Western State’s Tourism Policy Council meeting.