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National Restaurant Association - Obama taps NRA’s Gibbons for tourism board post

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Obama taps NRA’s Gibbons for tourism board post

In a nod to its importance on the U.S. economy and relationship to the restaurant industry, President Obama, at an appearance last week at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., pledged his full support for the U.S. tourism and travel industry. He also named former National Restaurant Association chairman Michael C. Gibbons as one of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board's 32 new members.

Gibbons, president and CEO of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Mainstreet Ventures, which owns and operates fine-dining restaurants in five states, will help advise the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect U.S. travel and tourism and provide counsel on current and emerging issues affecting that industry. One important area of focus will be working to increase hotel-room occupancies here in the United States, which ultimately will lead to job creation, he said.

"Filling hotel rooms ... helps the entire tourism and hospitality industry," Gibbons stated. "When hotels are busy, they hire staff; same with restaurants, theaters, retailers, etc. Job growth will help the economy and reduce the government's debt through increased revenue."

Dawn Sweeney, the NRA's president and CEO, applauded the President's selection of Gibbons to the board, saying the fine-dining operator and current treasurer of the association's Educational Foundation is an excellent choice to represent both tourism and his own restaurant industry.

"We are pleased and honored to have the restaurant industry so well represented on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board," Sweeney said. "Our industry has close ties to tourism, and we are committed to doing our part to encourage travel throughout the United States. We applaud the President's decision to appoint Mike Gibbons to this important position."

At the Jan. 19 event, Obama also signed an Executive Order that charges several federal agencies, including the departments of Commerce and the Interior as well as the departments of State and Homeland Security to form a taskforce that will develop strategies to grow U.S. tourism and resulting job creation.

According to NRA research, casual- and family-dining restaurants derive an average of 25 percent of their annual sales from travelers and tourists and the trend is even more prevalent among operators of fine-dining establishments, with an average of 40 percent of revenues coming from that sector.

"One out of every three dollars in restaurant sales is related to tourism, so what occurs in the travel and tourism arena has a direct correlation to advancement of restaurant industry sales, as well as an impact on job creation," Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA's Research & Knowledge Group, said.


Pictured, top right: Michael C. Gibbons

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