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AAHOA Chairman Joins U.S. Travel & Tourism Advisory Board
BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Travel and tourism are vital to America’s economy, employing more than eight million people and generating some $1.25 trillion in annual spending. It’s why the role of the U.S. Travel and Advisory Board is especially important.
This group advises the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect our country’s travel and tourism industry by providing a forum for discussion of current and emerging issues plus by proposing solutions to industry-related problems.
“Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) members now have a voice in this high level of advice, counsel and decision-making body with my recent appointment to the Board for a term that expires in September, 2011,” said AAHOA chairman Chandrakant"CK" I. Patel.
Being part of this prestigious 30-member Board marks another valuable step forward in giving Asian American hotel owners “a seat at the table” in Washington, D.C.
One of the key travel and tourism industry issues that affects AAHOA members and has been receiving attention recently is online booking of hotel rooms. Online travel companies (OTC’s) have gained considerable nationwide control over hotel room rates and inventory – and the Board is working to regain control.
Specifically, the Board is pursuing this with plans to create an OTC exclusively for the Association. They have begun work on the many legal and logistical details of getting this done.
The Association plan the site to be non-profit, and their members would be able to sell rooms just like they can on sites like Expedia and Orbitz. However, they will be able to drive more revenue to their bottom lines because while an outside OTC might charge them 25-30 percent on the bottom line markup, the AAHOA site would be 10 percent or less – simply enough to cover the infrastructure and marketing costs to operate the site.
In addition, the AAHOA site would pay occupancy taxes– taxes that state and local governments typically spend on promotional campaigns to attract more visitors to an area. This is a dramatically different position than the one taken by OTC’s who have proposed a tax exemption for themselves from occupancy taxes.
The Tourism Board has already researched the best companies to be our partner in providing an OTC service for AAHOA. Board members have begun interviewing the leading candidate firms.