Government Limits Travel for Environment

Today we received an email from Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S.Travel Association regarding policies that could limit federal government travel. It was well stated and worth sharing. Below is the email in its entirety:

Two steps forward, one step back: that seems to be the state of play for the travel industry under the Obama Administration. For every Travel Promotion Act or export initiative that focuses on tourism – two areas where President Obama and his team have been tremendously helpful to the seven million employees in our industry – there is a public statement or policy that is harmful. The latest example is an Obama Administration directive advising federal agencies to limit government travel in an effort to protect the environment.

The General Services Administration (GSA) recently announced that limiting government travel is one of the most effective means of reducing carbon emissions and achieving the President’s goal of creating a more environmentally friendly federal government. Specific language included in the GSA directive:

  • “In every case, the trip not taken is the least expensive and most sustainable.”
  • “Reducing or eliminating travel is one of the most effective means for agencies to minimize travel costs and reduce GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions. Agencies should review internal policies, and where appropriate or practicable, develop travel policies and practices that significantly reduce or eliminate official travel.”

In response to the Administration’s directive, 72 government agencies developed plans as to how they will limit government travel in the name of protecting the environment.

We Share Administration’s Goal, Oppose Approach

We share the Obama Administration’s goal of protecting the environment and creating more sustainable travel. But we strongly disagree that arbitrary travel cuts are in the best interests of the American economy, our industry’s employees or taxpayers who count on government to efficiently and effectively address their most pressing needs. Looking beyond government travel, we are particularly concerned about the message this sends to the private sector.

Plan of Action

We will work with our Board of Directors, CEO Roundtable and Meetings, Incentives and Trade Show Council to address this troubling issue. We will meet over the next several weeks with officials at the White House, GSA and key government agencies to express our concern with this policy and interest in working together to protect the environment. Nearly two dozen leading industry CEOs are joining us in Washington on November 11-12, and this issue will be a prime agenda topic and focus of our meetings with the Obama Administration. We will also engage the more than 300,000 members of our Power of Travel Coalition if necessary and at the appropriate time.

This is an issue that affects every aspect of our industry. As I’ve mentioned at other times, an attack on one aspect of travel is an attack on all aspects of travel. It doesn’t matter if it’s business or leisure, government or private. We cannot let this stand, and will continue to make the case for why travel matters in the most aggressive way possible.

Roger Dow


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