respondents with existing travel plans
to boycott-targeted states cancelled
trips or traveled to another state.
A separate survey of 2,500 meeting
and convention planners conducted by
In other words, a signi;icant major-
ity of the individuals whose travel
spending and choices have real effects
on local economies don’t favor punish-
ing those areas with bans and boy-
cotts. However, many have cancelled
or changed their plans anyway—and
those lost dollars add up. Every $1
million in sales of travel goods and
services directly generates nine jobs.
Those who call for boycotts are
clearly well intentioned. But wielding
travel—and necessarily, travel jobs—
as their weapon of choice is not the
answer. They, and we, would be better
off by universally recognizing travel as
a unifying force for good.
As Mark Twain said: “Travel is fatal
to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people
need it sorely on these accounts.
Broad, wholesome, charitable views of
men and things cannot be acquired by
vegetating in one little corner of the
earth all one’s lifetime.”
I believe living by that maxim,
rather than punishing the residents of
a community for the actions of an
executive or politician, is a better way
to achieve meaningful change in these
increasingly divisive times. For the
sake of 15 million American workers
whose jobs are dependent on travel,
we must agree to end the calls for trav-
el bans and boycotts once and for all.
Let’s instead aim to build greater
understanding between diverse communities by continuing to visit, meet in
and stop through areas that depend on
travel and tourism—and perhaps even
engaging with those who have built
their lives in these places.
This article originally appeared on the
Huf;ington Post blog. ■
It’s not clear that travel bans and
boycotts are effective at advancing
agendas. What is clear is that boycotts
have enormous potential for damaging
the jobs of travel and tourism workers.
beginning of the post-recession recovery
in 2010. Travel also stands out as a
sector with exceptional numbers of
workers who start out in the industry’s
lower echelons but work their way up to
managerial and even executive positions.
(I am a living testament to this: I got my
start as a lifeguard at the Marriott in
Lincolnshire, Ill. Two decades later I was
that company’s vice president of global
marketing and sales, overseeing a workforce of 25,000.)
Travel generates $2.1 trillion each
year for the U.S. economy, and is a top 10
industry in 49 states and the District of
Columbia. One in nine American jobs is
supported by travel-related spending.
With these numbers in mind, I have to
ask why, then, our industry so often
lands in the crosshairs of some of the
most pitched ideological battles our
broad political spectrum has to offer.
When an activist picks up a megaphone and demands a boycott, they are
presumably hoping to exert economic
pressure upon a decision-maker to reverse or atone for some offensive action.
However, one must pause to consider
who bears the brunt of these calls. Even
if the boycott results in a lost election or
a round of layoffs that includes the executive ;loor, chances are those legislators
or C-suite types are still going to be able
to support their families just ;ine.
But that is not as clear for the waiter,
front desk clerk or rental car agent who
was doing OK before the onset of “Boy-
cott Inspired By Social Outrage X.”
The U.S. Travel Association recently
commissioned research on perceptions
of travel bans and boycotts in response
to the controversial LGBT rights-related
legislation. According to a TNS survey of
2,500 American consumers, nearly half
of all respondents did not favor such
bans and boycotts—yet 16 percent of