Jonathon Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels and a member of numerous committees and coalitions designed to address and improve travel-related issues in the United States, this morning at the 33rd annual New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference called for action on the country’s aging infrastructure.
Tisch and his family have long reaching arms in the political and business worlds, and here’s hoping that his words will echo throughout meetings across the country. Let’s hope they don’t get drowned out by partisanship and short-sighted philosophies.
Tisch said more than 2 billion people will be able to enjoy travel in the next decade, and it’s important for the U.S. to upgrade an infrastructure that in many cases is more than 60 years old.
“We must face a critical, but important fact,” he said. “It’s complex and it’s expensive.”
With the stressful nature of travel to begin with, travelers are facing more obstacles than ever. Outdated roadways, bridges, tunnels and public transportation systems are way overworked. Fixing and updating them will be expensive. “The price of failure is even higher,” Tisch said.
He said the difference between infrastructure elsewhere in the world and infrastructure in the U.S. is like the difference between the space age and the Stone Age.
Tisch said to keep an eye on the America Fast Forward and National Infrastructure Bank programs as ways to help improve the nation’s infrastructure without putting more pressure on taxpayers.
But like anything else, taxpayers will have to be involved at some level. With the efforts to cut budgets and keep taxes in check at what seems to be all-time highs, it’s going to be a hard sell. But if the vested parties take a long-term look ahead, they will realize that an improved infrastructure must be at the top of the agenda.
As Tisch said: “All stakeholders have a shared destiny.”
In general, the mood at the conference is upbeat as the first day unfolds. Natural disasters, man-made disasters, economic turmoil and civil uprisings are obviously weighing on everyone’s minds. There is still optimism as the industry muddles toward recovery.