Where to Begin

With this issue coming out just before Election Day, it seems a fitting time to look at some of the key travel-industry issues that the incoming chief executive will face.

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Kenneth Shapiro
With this issue coming out just before Election Day, it seems a fitting time to look at some of the key travel-industry issues that the incoming chief executive will face.

To begin with, congratulations is well deserved for the recent passage of the Travel Promotion Act of 2008 (H.R. 3232) in the House of Representatives. This bill will help spur the economy and raise the country’s image overseas by actively promoting inbound travel. It is crucial that the Senate approve this bill and that it’s signed by the incoming president. The Travel Industry Association (TIA), among others, was very active in promoting this legislation, and TIA president and CEO Roger Dow called it an "unprecedented achievement for the travel community."

"We now call on the U.S. Senate to act quickly to reverse the decline in overseas visitation to the U.S. and utilize the power of travel to strengthen the American economy," Dow said.

Another major issue that still needs to be addressed is the Passengers’ Bill of Rights. With fuel prices dropping and the realization that some regulation is necessary to keep industries from running wild, the time seems right to create and strengthen protections for airline consumers. Hopefully, the new president will find the strength to take a stand and act on this.

Finally, many experts have pointed out that, if we really want to revamp our airline system, the key is to update our seriously antiquated air traffic control system, which relies on radar technology developed after World War II. An update could save airlines an estimated 400,000 barrels of fuel a day. The so-called NextGen system would use GPS to help airlines fly more direct routes — thus reducing airline emissions and increasing overall efficiency.

The current system is "the equivalent of using an electric typewriter when others are using computers," said David Castelveter, an Air Transport Association spokesman, in a recent Associated Press article on MSNBC.com. "It’s a huge, huge drag on productivity."

Regardless of which way you vote, hopefully this change in leadership will mean change for the better in the travel industry.

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