Tourism. The Rodney Dangerfield of Industries. | Bruce Turkel

After almost every punch line, a googly-eyed, sweating Rodney Dangerfield would tug at his tie and utter his famous line, “Awww, I don’t get no respect.”
Seems to me the entire travel and tourism industry could do the same thing. Tourism is a trade that encompasses so many different business sectors but has no single defining industry designation, and therefore, has no real way of demonstrating its value to the greater community.

Check the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and you’ll find listings for Air Transportation; Aircraft-Aerospace Manufacturing; Amusement and Recreation; Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping; Food Preparations and Food Specialties; Hotel and Restaurant; Museums, Art Galleries, and Botanical and Zoological Gardens; and the Railroad Transportation Industries – all listed as separate sectors. And that list doesn’t even include limousines, cruise lines, sporting events, nor all of tourism’s supporting industries such as Legal, Accounting, HR, Real Estate, Retail, etc., etc., etc. Yet every one of those businesses owes some or all of its success to tourism.

Funny how things change in times of trouble, though. Now that BP is dolling out money to companies whose businesses have suffered due to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it seems every business that might have ever received a dollar from a tourist’s wallet has its hand out for relief. Watching the evening news the other day, I saw a gas station owner from Palatka complaining that BP owed him money because tourists have stopped driving down to Florida. Even the Brass Monkey Lounge in Marathon filed a lawsuit against BP for diminished business.

As Judy Sorenson, owner of the bar, said in The Miami Herald, “It‘s still beautiful here, but people aren’t coming because they think the oil is here, even though it isn’t here. That’s killing the Keys.”

Maybe so, Judy; but it ain’t killing bars. The last thing people in the Keys are going to give up is booze. In fact, I’d bet that the worse the situation gets, the more they’ll drink.

Regardless of the economic realities, our tourism industry will keep stoking the economy – providing jobs, generating taxes and showing people the best parts of the United States, all without getting the respect it deserves. It’s so bad that even Rodney Dangerfield used to diss our industry: “Boy, what a hotel that was, why they stole MY towel! Then I asked the bellhop to handle my bag and he fondled my wife.”

I’m tellin’ you, we don’t get no respect.

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