Last week, Rep. Ann Wagner met with more than 20 travel and tourism leaders at the St. Louis Museum of Transportation. Dan Lennon, Director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, led the discussion. The group included representatives from Explore St. Louis, Enterprise, Maritz and St. Louis International Airport.
Mr. Lennon began the discussion by highlighting the importance of Brand USA reauthorization and travel promotion funding. He emphasized the significance of both by sharing stories of the return on investment that destination marketing delivers in Missouri’s 2nd district. He specifically highlighted the growth of international travel, and how that is directly related to these investments.
Next, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge of St. Louis International Airport (STL) spoke about WOW Airlines’ recent announcement of flights from STL to Iceland, beginning in 2018. Multiple members of the group commented on how beneficial this would be for Missouri’s travel industry and tied it into a larger discussion of prioritizing new routes and airport improvements.
The group briefly touched on the NAACP’s Missouri travel ban in response to controversial legislation and the fact that 37 states with identical or similar legislation had not been targeted. The discussion transitioned to a more general conversation on how the ban would impact convention and trade shows, and why it is such a priority to attract these events to the district. The representatives from Martiz, Enterprise, and STL all spoke about the importance of making travel to a destination easy, and what that can do for the local economy.
Lastly, the group discussed the status of Real ID, and what this will mean for business travel. Mr. Lennon updated the Congressman on the expected extension of the 1/1/18 implementation by the Federal Aviation Administration. The talk ended with members asking the Congresswoman to join the House Travel and Tourism Caucus. Congresswomen Wagner expressed her gratitude and thanked the group for their commitment to the industry and the district. We are very grateful to her for taking the time to meet with local travel leaders and look forward to continuing the conversation.