Several restaurant industry executives were appointed to a major U.S. tourism council, and their presence on the advisory board reaffirms the important role the restaurant industry plays in the travel and tourism industry, the National Restaurant Association announced.

The 2010–2011 U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, appointed by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, counsels the secretary on tourism, which is also an essential driver of restaurant profitability. Travel and tourism account for about one-fifth of restaurant industry sales.

“We are gratified to see that the restaurant industry is so well represented in these critical discussions about travel and tourism, which are so important to our industry,” says Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association president and CEO. “Together with our state restaurant association partners, we are a long-time champion of tourism-related issues that benefit the country and our nation’s nearly one million restaurant and foodservice outlets.”

Industry leaders appointed to the travel and tourism advisory board are: Holly Agra, president of Chicago’s First Lady Cruises; José Andrés, president and cofounder of ThinkFoodGroup;
Maryann Ferenc, founder, president, and CEO of Mise en Place Inc.; Chuck Floyd, executive vice president and COO of Global Hyatt Corporation; Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International; Jeremy Jacobs Sr., chairman and CEO of Delaware North Companies Inc.; Hubert Joly, president and CEO of Carlson Companies (operator of T.G.I. Friday’s and Pick Up Stix); David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International; and John Sprouls, CEO of Universal Orlando Resort and executive vice president of Universal Parks and Resorts.

“The power of the hospitality industry is important to tourism,” says José Andrés, who operates several restaurants in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. “We are one of the industries that employ the most people. We have the power to reenergize the economy and at the same time help ourselves. I want to be the voice of the small restaurateur, to talk about our needs and the opportunities we see ahead. Small restaurateurs are a huge part of the tourism/hospitality industry.”

“Travel and restaurants are inseparable,” says Lynne Breaux, president of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. “Travel decisions are determined by the quality and popularity of restaurants. It’s important that restaurateurs such as José Andrés are part of this important board, as more and more travel destinations are in fact restaurant destinations.”

National Restaurant Association research shows that about 20 percent of restaurant sales come from travelers and tourists. For fine dining restaurants, that percentage averages 40 percent.

The U.S. restaurant industry is a key driver in the nation’s economy and current economic recovery. Industry sales represent 4 percent of the GDP and its workforce comprises 9 percent of total employment, making it the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer. Each dollar spent in restaurants generates $2.05 spent in the overall economy, and each additional $1 million in restaurant sales generates 34 jobs for the economy.

The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board provides counsel to the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry and provides a forum for discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related concerns.

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