Pro­tect­ing tourism

U.S. and West­ern New York must en­sure that the ‘open for busi­ness’ sign stays on

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At­tract­ing more tourists to the United States needs to be a top pri­or­ity in Wash­ing­ton. Part of that work means ex­pand­ing – and pos­si­bly re­brand­ing – the na­tion’s Visa Waiver Pro­gram.

Tourism is a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to any­one liv­ing in the Buf­falo-Ni­a­gara re­gion, with its place on an in­ter­na­tional bor­der and the al­lure of Ni­a­gara Falls. Of course, there are many other in­ter­est­ing sites, cul­tural and sports at­trac­tions to keep fam­i­lies busy and en­ter­tained. But if there is a cap – even if it only per­ceived – on the num­ber of vis­i­tors who might be al­lowed in, that’s a prob­lem.

When it comes to travel, of­ten­times per­cep­tion be­comes re­al­ity. How many places have been crossed off the bucket list be­cause of bad press and ru­mors?

It is im­per­a­tive that the United States main­tain its at­trac­tion to peo­ple ven­tur­ing from other coun­tries and pre­pared to spend money.

As out­lined in a re­cent Los An­ge­les Times ar­ti­cle printed in The News, there is keen in­ter­est in ex­pand­ing the Visa Waiver Pro­gram, which al­lows trav­el­ers from 38 coun­tries to visit the United States with­out visas. Law­mak­ers must care­fully con­sider se­cu­rity is­sues, of course, but in cases where it makes sense, they should look to ex­pand the num­ber of coun­tries the pro­gram cov­ers.

A trade group for the na­tion’s travel in­dus­try is tak­ing an­other po­ten­tially use­ful ap­proach by push­ing a new “tougher sound­ing ” name for the pro­gram: the Se­cu­rity Travel Part­ner­ship. Jonathan Grella, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent at the U.S. Travel As­so­ci­a­tion, wor­ries that the word “waiver” sounds overzeal­ous and un­con­cerned with se­cu­rity. Re­brand­ing with a new name could cre­ate a new per­cep­tion.

The trade group needs bi­par­ti­san sup­port from law­mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., both to re­name the pro­gram and to ex­pand it to in­clude nine new coun­tries, which in­clude Poland, Ar­gentina, Is­rael and Brazil. There’s also a big­ger tourism-boost­ing ef­fort among travel and tourism lead­ers who are con­cerned that the United States is, slowly but surely, los­ing its foot­ing as the most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for in­ter­na­tional tourists.

Con­sider the strong U.S. dol­lar, eco­nomic tur­moil in Europe, trade ten­sions with China and harsh anti-im­mi­grant talk em­a­nat­ing from Wash­ing­ton. It all adds up to a money-los­ing propo­si­tion, and the pos­si­bil­ity that China, which is al­ready clos­ing in as the world’s new tourism hotspot, will claim the ti­tle.

To spell it out in dol­lars and cents, by 2030 travel and tourism is ex­pected to con­trib­ute $3 tril­lion into the Chi­nese econ­omy. The United States is ex­pected to pull in $2 tril­lion in travel and tourism spend­ing by they the same year, ac­cord­ing to statis­tics re­leased by the World Travel & Tourism Coun­cil, a Lon­don-based non­profit.

In­ter­est­ingly, the ex­pan­sion of the pro­gram ap­peared to have the sup­port of Pres­i­dent Trump. Time will tell if leg­is­la­tors fol­low through.

Ex­pan­sion and re­brand­ing of the Visa Waiver Pro­gram is in this re­gion and coun­try’s best in­ter­est. been trou­bling ones for him. Once he tried to com­mit sui­cide while he was still very young. What­ever brought him to that dark place re­mained with him his whole life.

He spent his for­ma­tive years in the tu­mul­tuous 1960s, when a se­duc­tive coun­ter­cul­ture roared into be­ing. Bill was at its fore­front, and lived a rock ‘n’ roll life.

He was glo­ri­ous to be­hold – tall and whip­pet thin, with tight jeans and a long full golden head of hair. He lived in San Fran­cisco when it served as a mag­net for rock mu­sic, left-wing ac­tivism and psy­che­delic drugs. He was present with Amer­i­can In­dian ac­tivists at Wounded Knee.

He said that the two most im­por­tant things in life to him were jeans and rock ‘n’ roll. He burned bright, and be­gan a long process of burn­ing out. All the sig­nal fea­tures of such a young, bright life do not wear well into mid­dle age, and the drink­ing and drugs that My View were part of his life even­tu­ally caught up with him.

He was an al­co­holic. Per­haps he had a ge­netic makeup that caused his ad­dic­tions to get such a strong hold on him. He cer­tainly had a void he tried to fill, a dark place that seemed to grow and take hold of him. The drink­ing pushed it away, qui­eted it for a while. Late in his life, he spent six months in a psy­chi­atric cen­ter, with no al­co­hol and a lot of coun­sel­ing.

The day he was re­leased, he started drink­ing again. Even­tu­ally it re-sulted in his death.

Bill dropped out of col­lege and de­faulted on his stu­dent loans. That shaped his work life, as he al­ways worked un­der­ground and off the books so that he couldn’t be tracked and caught.

So, un­like me, he did not build up So­cial Se­cu­rity or a pen­sion, and that left him in mid­dle age de­pen­dent on fam­ily and friends.

At Bill’s fu­neral ser­vice, the place was full of peo­ple whose lives he had touched, who spoke glow­ingly of how he was the only per­son who had ever re­ally lis­tened to them and un­der­stood them. They loved him; they ad­mired him; they li­on­ized him.

Once he tried to write a novel. It was called “Rouge et Noir,” and was set in a post-Apoc­a­lyp­tic Amer­ica.

He wrote only frag­ments, and what he left be­hind is episodic, lyri­cal, bril­liant, dan­ger­ous – a re­flec­tion of who he was. Ernest Hem­ing­way wrote, “No­body ever lives their life all the way up ex­cept bull­fight­ers.”

I be­lieve that Bill lived his life all the way up. Bull­fight­ers live dan­ger­ous lives and of­ten die young. Bill lived a dan­ger­ous life and died young. But while he was alive, oh how he burned bright.

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