Tourism not a top priority

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 24, 2002

This nation is at war, and with each passing day appears to be closer to getting deeper into that state.

As such, it’s incumbent upon our leaders to set priorities – priorities that are not dictated by politics and campaign contributions.

On Monday, Orlando, Fla.’s top tourism officials on Monday urged U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans to spend federal money on marketing the Untied States as a travel destination to international tourists.

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Foreign visitation is the weakest segment of the nation’s $546 billion tourism industry, so tourism types want the Commerce Department to spend millions on advertising the U.S. overseas.

Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney World, suggested that spending $50 million on an advertising campaign could bring a return worth several billions of dollars.

The request is abhorrent. Someone should remind Weiss that there is a war on. Weiss’ company could easily come up with $50 million by slashing Weiss’ pay and that of his boss, Michael Eisner.

Evans should be applauded for being noncommittal in his response. &uot;We’ll list to ideas,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s going to be our responsibility to continue to fund the priorities of this nation at this moment in our history.&uot;

Attracting more foreigners to Disney World, one would think, would be way down on that list.

War generally means sacrifice and Weiss and Disney would be well advised to look for ways of tightening their belts.