(with apologies to Jimmy Stewart/Mr. Smith!)
I was there with the Queen of England, Ben Franklin and about 200 other folks. The common interest? All of us were attending the Tourism Rally on June 10. We are very concerned about proposed cuts in funding for tourism in Pennsyvlania.
The advertising budget may be slashed, and we are hoping to convince the legislature and Governor to preserve it and to support the 400,000 jobs in the state that rely on this industry. Tourism is the second largest industry in the state – and raised $28 billion in revenue for 2007. The money that our local Convention and Visitors Bureau gets from the state is used for advertising – and for supporting small businesses like ours in Lancaster County that rely on the CVB.
So, when I was asked to represent the bed and breakfast industry, I accepted and gave my speech in front of the steps of the grand rotunda in the Capitol Building in Harrisburg. Four other people spoke, all from different backgrounds and jobs, all representing the many different businesses that are affected by tourism.
It was a bit like Mr. Smith’s trip to Washington so many years ago. Here’s a picture of me being
videotaped. The Capitol was dedicated in 1906, modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is a strikingly beautiful building – although the acoustics are not conducive for taping. So we searched for what we thought would be a quiet corner near a side entrance, only to discover that our taping would be interrupted by half a dozen people hurrying past us to get to work.
The press conference itself was interesting – legislators coming and going, most of the people not easily identifiable as press – and then the camera crews rushing in, testing the light settings, taping, running around to interview spokespeople.
It was all very exciting.
And, in light of what is occurring in Iran this week, we are reminded that our freedom is something that we should not take lightly. This government that we have created is like nothing else anywhere on the planet. The fact that we can rally, protest, write letters to the editor, call our representatives, vote…all of those freedoms did not come easily. Let us not take for granted what has been given to us. There are people halfway across the world who are risking their lives to do what I was able to do.
If you are serious about preserving funding for tourism, I urge you to take action. Get the facts, see pictures (including some bad ones of me!) and listen to part of the rally here: http://www.patourismequalsjobs.com/?page_id=3ualsjobs.com