US Travel chief laments boycotts

NEW YORK — Boycotting travel to destinations based on policies
or practices is effective in sending a message, but boycotts are detrimental
to the local economy and workers, U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow said.

Dow spoke onstage at the International Gay & Lesbian
Travel Association (IGLTA) Annual Global Convention at the Hilton Midtown here,
in a fireside chat with NYC & Company president and CEO Fred Dixon.

“People look for leverage no matter what the issue
might be,” Dow said.

It’s happened in the U.S., like in North Carolina in 2016
when the state enacted a law requiring transgender individuals to use bathrooms
that correspond to their birth sex. Other state governments and corporations pressured
the state to repeal the law. New York and California responded with a North
Carolina travel ban for their state employees. Companies canceled business events
in the state. 

The law was repealed in 2017 under Democratic Gov. Roy
Cooper.

Dow said people use the travel industry to send a message,
and while their message may be well-intended, they’re putting people out of
work. And in many cases, Dow said, they are the people who need the work, like
housekeepers, bellmen, waiters and waitresses.

Boycotts are “unfortunately” effective, Dow said.
A US Travel study found that 77% of meeting planners said boycotts make no
difference in their decisions of where to hold events, but 16% said they would
choose to go somewhere else. “That’s big money,” Dowd said.

He called on people to work to solve the problem,
saying, “We can’t be the easy prey for anyone with a cause.”

IGLTA doesn’t support boycotts. When Bermuda banned same-sex
marriage last year (a law later struck down by Bermuda’s Supreme Court), IGLTA
president John Tanzella said “boycotts never help solve problems. Our
position is always more to try and work with the tourism office and the
government to change policies.”

At the IGLTA event, Dow addressed the importance of the
LGBTQ community to travel, calling it a “phenomenally important market.”

LGBTQ travelers not only make up a significant portion of
travelers, but they also have a propensity to spend a lot on travel.

“It is huge, and that’s a big opportunity,” Dow
said.

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