Our First One Hundred Days

by: Andreas Weissenborn, Vice President of Research & Advocacy, Destinations International

With over 300 million American staring at inauguration and the breadth of policy, issues, and institutions hanging over it, much has been made over a new president’s first hundred days, and even first ten days! In a country that has surpassed over 400,000 pandemic deaths since 2020, both actions and words matter to guide a nation to a horizon through the long dark. As much as I would like to believe our sector can be part of the Biden’s administration’s first one hundred days, I know much of what surrounds us must be addressed before we can enter the equation to restore our communities and provide a light towards economic recovery.

Looking through the prism of a different timeline, past the pandemic, disinformation, and social injustices, 2021 could have started with a different one hundred days - ours. No president in American history has ever put forth policy changes towards our industry within his first hundred days, but what would that even look like?  Instead of a commander in chief, what would happen if we had a destination in chief? Here is our first one hundred days.

Created and Nominate a Secretary of Tourism Position

Full stop, we need to join the ranks of every other tourism focused country and hire a true tourism envoy at the highest form of our government. Without proper representation for our industry, we will be relegated or neglected as a sector to help influence policy across the country. No more delegations to committees or branches under other departments; it is time we hired our first secretary of tourism.

Provide a Passport to Every American

How we can better understand our neighbors if we seldom understand our place in the world? The pandemic has shown just how valuable a change of scenario can be. Think of how this could change our culture if we could unlock the ability for many to now experience the transformative nature of travel. If every American were able to immerse themselves in another country’s culture, think of the values this would return to our nation upon their return trip.

Create a ‘NAFTA’ of Travel/Tourism Between Canada & Mexico

Building off the passports, many of us will still prefer the open road and would prefer going international within their own vehicle. This still leaves opportunities to form our own travel bubble between these two countries, sharing and prospering all in the economic growth of tourism. This could be even further expanded into business meetings, sporting events, and group tour as a continued geographic booking rotation.

Tourism Infrastructure

Double down on the investment not just in community enhancing infrastructure but one with respect to mobility to travel and tourism. A major infrastructure package is something both sides of the aisle agree upon yet seldom as drawn out relating to merits to our industry.  Airports, rail, and ports of our nation all need a comprehensive plan that incorporates intermodal transportation in facilitating mobility. Luckily, much of this has been written out already, now we just need to move from pen to shovel.

Brand Campaign

Whole brands perform better than fractured brands, and a country shown through unity in its messaging will show the world we are a community worth visiting. Much like our destinations, brand investment is not a onetime deal - destinations need to continually work on their brand through the passage of time. Earmark money to go towards a renewable brand campaign to tell our story and importantly, make sure the brand is also shared locally. Garner buy-in locally so we are properly represented globally.

Statehood to the Territories

American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands all should be made whole and designated proper states of the United States. This would unlock not just proper representation but access to broader access to commerce and industry. Americans could then still feel right as home as they visit our new states in the south Pacific and north Pacific and Atlantic and vice versa.

Our Own National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) IRS Tax Code

Bland and not sexy? Yes, but they are equally important to solidifying our relevance and worth by how we declare ourselves to the IRS. I've searched hundreds of destinations' tax exemption forms and our industry's ‘classifications’ run the gamut. A23 – Cultural Awareness... perhaps; A99 – Other Art, Culture, Humanities Organizations/Service... a bit of a catch all at times; S21 – Community Coalitions... maybe a stretch there. It is time we get our own. I would like to suggest DM0, but unfortunately all "D" classifications are animal related - but hopefully they would make an exception for us.

About the Author

Andreas WeissenbornVice President of Research and AdvocacyDestinations International

About the Author

Introduced to the industry by a random internship application to Visit Baltimore, Andreas began an unexpected career that left him with a continued passion towards tourism. He leads the research and advocacy efforts of the entire organization with an eye towards developing data-driven tools to help destinations around the world tell their story.

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