NEW YORK—Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman of Loews Hotels & Resorts, urged travel industry leaders to embrace public policy reforms that will improve the air travel experience to and within the United States, and help the industry tap into the growing pool of international travelers.
The changes Tisch called for include an increase in airport infrastructure investment, federal reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration and the implementation of NextGen aviation technology. Tisch made these remarks at the 37th Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.
According to Tisch, America’s airports are more crowded than ever before, and our nation’s aviation infrastructure is not keeping pace with growing travel demands. “In 2011, our airports handled 33 million more passengers than they did in 2001. But airports haven’t expanded to meet that surging demand. And, the numbers are only increasing,” Tisch said.
To help alleviate congestion and improve the travel experience, Tisch stressed the importance of NextGen technology implementation and said that Congress “should require the FAA to prioritize NextGen deployment in America’s most congested airports where its impact would be felt the greatest.”
He also called on Washington to act quickly to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, which is set to expire in September. “I understand that politics is a messy business,” Tisch said, “but our industry needs to send a message that it’s time to stop playing political games with the FAA.”
In recent years, the travel industry has earned some notable policy wins in Washington including passage of the Travel and Promotion Act, the creation of Brand USA, improvements to the visa process and expansion of the Visa Waiver Program.
But, to spark future industry growth, Tisch encouraged travel leaders to also look beyond the halls of Congress and work to change “America’s workaholic culture” by communicating the benefits of taking time off to travel. Each year, Americans leave roughly 429 million days of unused vacation time on the table, according to Project: Time Off, a trend he acknowledged would be difficult to reverse.
“But, if we can accomplish a change in behavior, the rewards will be significant—for American families, for American businesses and, yes, for America’s travel industry.”