President Bill Clinton on the Impact of Travel and Tourism

Connect President Chris Collinson sat down with President Clinton at Connect Marketplace 2015 to ask him a few questions.

Bill Clinton Travel Tourism Industry Economy Connect Marketplace President Pittsburgh Event Conference Convention

While in front of the audience of meeting and hospitality officials, Clinton took a moment to talk about the role the travel and tourism industry plays in the economy. He explained that the industry has been a priority for him since his days as governor of Arkansas and through his presidency, citing a White House conference he hosted dedicated to developing the industry. Clinton made three points about the industry, specifically on how world events can affect travel and tourism. “If you think about the big challenges of the world today, every single one of them, if not addressed, will impinge on the rate of growth of your industry,” Clinton said. Here are some of his other talking points for event profs.

  1. On wages: “If [wages are] not keeping up with [the] productivity and profitability growth of companies, you’ll have fewer travelers and they’ll spend less along the way,” said Clinton.
  1. On security: “The most historic ruins in Syria, in Palmyra, were recently taken down, and the man who devoted his life to saving them was beheaded,” said Clinton. “Nobody’s gonna charter a plane and fill it with tourists [to go] there anytime soon.”
  1. On climate change: “If the waters continue to rise, it will affect Florida most severely in our country, but it will have a very destructive impact on the whole travel and tourism industry,” he explained.

President Clinton ended on this thought: “Remember that in an interdependent world, if you want to advance travel and tourism, people have to feel secure, they have to have money in their pockets and they have to have healthy places to go,” he said. “The only way to achieve that is when you create networks of cooperation instead of conflict. Wherever it happens, good things occur; wherever it doesn’t, trouble crops up.” 

Other words of wisdom from the former president:

On Hillary Clinton breaking the glass ceiling: “I think that the more insecure people are with their own social and economic footing in society, the more likely they are to subconsciously resist the idea of women continuing to rise to the top without intentionally being sexist.”

On Area 51: “We may not be alone in the universe, but our partners are not at Area 51. The reason Area 51 has occasioned so much speculation is that the employees have to stop about 60 miles away and change into their work clothes before they go in. We do a lot of specialized, super-secret technology there. It’s all good, but, alas, there are no aliens.”

On how to get a spot on the Clinton Christmas card list: “Ask.”

On heart-healthy eating: “Read the recommendations of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who was a cardiac surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. He sends me notes of disapproval if he sees me on the internet eating one roll at a banquet.”

On how to deal with the haters: “Respond without hate. Haters can’t hurt you without your permission. We should try to cast our eyes and keep our spirits up and cast our votes, not based on hatred but based on hope, and not based on what divides us, but on what unites us.”

On where to eat in Washington, D.C.: “Cafe Milano or Bombay Palace.”

On what to do when visiting Arkansas: “Go to the mountains. Blanchard [Springs Cavern] is the second-biggest limestone cavern in America. It’s a stunning, beautiful, different place.”

On what every American should do in the U.S. before they die: “See the sun set and rise as far out on the ledge of the Grand Canyon as your balance and the law will allow. It’s an unbelievable manifestation of nature’s beauty.”

Photo credit: Chris Savas