Guides Association of New York City (GANYC) members traveled down to our nation's capitol this week to attend the US Travel Association's annual Destination Capitol Hill event. This 2-day event involves educating both travel professionals on how to make their voices heard, and then a full day of meetings with congressional staff on Capitol Hill on issues important to US travel. In attendance for GANYC were Harvey Paul Davidson, Emma Guest-Consales, Patrick Casey, and Jeremy Wilcox. With the former two representing New Jersey and the latter representing New York, GANYC was able to meet with members from two states, expanding our influence.
On Wednesday, DCH attendees gathered at the Grand Hyatt to hear from the US Travel Association (represented by Roger Dow, Tori Barnes, Erik Hansen, Will Brown, & others) and their invited guests. We were reminded of the power of travel: it generates $2.5T in economic output, creates 15.7 million US jobs, and has created $69 billion travel trade surplus. Given the state of global politics, and America's changing standing in the world, we cannot take it for granted that international travelers will choose us for their vacation or business travel needs. We must work to remain an attractive and welcoming destination for travelers.
One featured speaker on Wednesday was former congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS), who discussed with Ms. Barnes on how constituents can most effectively lobby and reach their representatives. All the events that day were followed by a networking reception.
Thursday was the key day: the Capitol Hill visits. Between the 4 members in attendance, GANYC had well over a dozen scheduled meetings with Senate and Congressional legislative directors, as well as a couple dozen packets to drop off at other New York & New Jersey offices. It should be noted that, with these meetings, it is fairly rare to meet with the Representative or Senator themselves, but rather it is a sit-down meeting with their staff responsible for legislative matters. For those who never done something like this, it is highly recommended. A visit to the Senate and House office buildings-- which are open to the public-- is a great way to restore faith in our democratic system and truly engage with it. Most of the staffers you meet with are, not unlike tour guides, very busy but absolutely in love with their work. GANYC members had meetings with the staff of Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, Menendez, Booker, and Representatives Pascrell, Nadler, Clarke, Espaillat, Peter King, and many others.
Some of the issues that the US Travel Association wished to push representatives on included: the renewal of Brand USA (a public-private partnership created by the Travel Promotion Act, to market the US to international travelers), the passage of H.R. 1996 (to rename the important visa waiver program as the Secure Travel Partnership, & other related purposes), the passage of H.R. 1225 (Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service... Senate version is S.500), and a renewal of America's travel infrastructure.
GANYC and its Board have worked to make our organization more than a mere collection of local guides, but also a globally-recognized face of the travel & tourism in America's largest city. Events like Destination Capitol Hill, as well as our trips to events around the world for the NFTGA or WFTGA help boost this profile. We are thankful for our members support, and we will keep working to make sure that people know to turn to GANYC for the best information & experience related to New York City travel.