I was honored to be invited to the White House to participate in the Presidential Council on Tourism and Travel March 20. My trip to Washington, D.C., was an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about the different perspectives of others in the industries that are so important to me and dear to my heart. Not only was I able to see firsthand how important our industry is, but I also felt like my voice as an American was well received.
Business owners and the United States Government alike strive to constantly improve on the experiences of all travelers, with extra importance placed on the international travelers who may be getting their first glimpses of our nation. The U.S. has seen an uptick in tourism and travel numbers. International visitation was up three percent in November 2013, according to the Office of Travel and Tourism. Visitors from outside the country spent $15.8 billion in January. Keeping those numbers rising requires creating a great experience for travelers of all kinds and making sure that all levels of the industry are represented with well-trained personnel who excel at customer service.
One of the most profound topics of the council was a focus on the Department of Parks and Recreation. There is increasing interest in showcasing our wonderful national landscape as desired destinations. Even as a world traveler and businessperson, I have yet to see many of the beautiful state parks and awe-inspiring natural wonders within the borders of the U.S. I have been very impressed by the new marketing campaign for the state parks of this country. I plan to pitch Yosemite National Park, The Grand Canyon, and other regional destinations to future clients.
Another aspect of the meetings that I found pertinent is the continued amazing job Homeland Security has done with assuring the safety of U.S. citizens and travelers from abroad. Their jobs are not easy and can be thankless at times. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everybody that personal safety is a concern that comes first and foremost in all walks of life but is essential for the worry-free and enjoyable experience we supply in the world of tourism and travel. Be patient! The TSA is doing a great job and the added 10 minutes of inconvenience to your itinerary can make or break our livelihood.
I attended the council with my good friend (and competitor) Alan Waxler, which helped me make an integral realization. I feel that in the world of business all competitors should be friendly and work together. Our industries could benefit greatly from less cut-throat competiveness and more unity. When businesses work together to create a favorable climate everyone stands to benefit. It raises the industries’ standards and ensures beneficial scenarios for both clients and companies.
This experience made me feel an overwhelming sense of pride for our line of work and it hammered home the importance of what we do. Beyond creating dazzling and dreamlike entertainment experiences for our clients we also have an enormous impact on the economy and countless other industries. It is important to keep the broader perspective in mind in our day-to-day workings and lives so that we demand the highest quality work.
We look forward to seeing you in our fabulous city of Las Vegas! Travel safe!
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Jaki Baskow has been CEO and owner of the full-service destination management company Baskow & Associates in Las Vegas since 1976.