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How to Weather a Recession: The Case for Preserving Destination Marketing Funding

A380_ek_designAs millions of ordinary Americans rethink their priorities, neighborhoods and local communities find themselves on the front line of preserving their local way of life.

The Los Angeles Times reports the bad news that international travel is going down. Air India plans to eliminate its six flights a week between LAX and Frankfurt, with connecting flights to New Delhi and Mumbai. In late October, Thai Airways will no longer offer nonstop flights to Bangkok and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.said it was suspending one of three daily flights between Hong Kong and LAX. In all, at least 11% of international flights at LAX will disappear in November compared with the same time last year, wiping out nearly a decade's worth of traffic gains.

Everyone is affected by fuel costs and the state of the economy. But too often, domestic airports are held up by 655 radical groups who are trying to stop international flights like the A380 (pictured above, right) from their community.

As I've blogged before, airports are a key indicator of a city's health. You can only recirculate the combined income of your citizens so many times: a vibrant community needs a regular influx of dollars, people and commerce from elsewhere. To attract outside resources, you need a concerted community effort, which is where destination marketing comes in.

Lawmakers regularly take destination marketing for granted as their memories of successes fade. Today, 85% of travel funding comes through the destination occupancy tax, which some people know as the hotel tax. In a weak economy, there are many that covet those monies for traditional purposes that are unrelated to tourism.

As is the case with internet taxation, municipalities are reaching their breaking point in budgeting for police, fire, schools, and other critical infrastructure. People need to think harder about what it really takes to fund the places where they want to live.

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