DAMAGE OF BOYCOTTS
Travel should be the bridge—not the ammo—
in America’s culture wars.
BY ROGER DOW
Roger (MPI Potomac Chapter) is president and CEO of the U.S. Travel
Association, the Washington, D.C.-based national umbrella organization
representing all segments of travel in America—an industry responsible for
generating $2.1 trillion in annual economic output. U.S. Travel’s mission is to
increase travel to and within the United States.
AS STRONGLY EVIDENCED by the 2016 U.S.
presidential election, we are a divided
country. But the evidence had been building for quite a while, and not just on the
campaign trail. All too often, we hear calls
to “boycott” an institution or place that is
associated with an event deemed offensive
by a group of people.
In September, the National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA) cancelled all
of its upcoming events in North Carolina,
owing to that state’s controversial “bath-
room bill” that is viewed in many quarters
as discriminatory against the LGBT com-
munity. The NCAA relocated seven cham-
pionship events in various sports.
Indiana was targeted in a similar LGBT-
rights dispute last year, and Mississippi
has been embroiled in its own such con-
troversy. Previously, Arizona was the sub-
ject of a ;irestorm centered on the equally
sensitive topic of immigration. No corner
of the country is immune; travel often
becomes a cudgel in an ideological skir-
mish despite—or maybe because of—the
fact that it is a major factor in every corner
of the country, on every economic level.
But it’s not at all clear that travel bans
and boycotts are ultimately effective at
advancing the agendas of their advocates.
What is clear is that boycotts have enor-
mous potential for collateral damage—
namely to the jobs of travel and tourism
workers whose livelihoods depend on
visitation to their regions.
The travel industry is noteworthy for
its ability to provide advancement and
higher earning potential to a broad spectrum of workers across the country. The
industry has created jobs at a faster rate
than the rest of the economy since the