Social security. Medicare. Iraq. Terrorism. And travel? The candidates for the 2008 presidential nominations, a large group likely to be winnowed further following Tuesday’s key New Hampshire primaries, have their plates full with first four of these. But pilots, air traveller advocates and the people who promote tourism and inbound US travel, from the restaurant and hotel groups to the big travel agencies, want Hillary and Barack and Rudy and Mitt to start thinking about travel – and get it on their policy stovetop if not the front burner. To cut through the competition and get some attention from the very large number of groups trying to grab that very large number of ears in the running, the travel groups did a survey of very likely visitors in two key primary states, South Carolina and Florida, about how important these issues are to voters in these two states -both of which will be key battlegrounds. Florida is the home to the Disney attractions in Orlando and to the beaches of the Miami area, while South Carolina is a domestic vacation lure and site of many a college student ‘spring break’. Both states are keenly aware of the declining US image with world travellers and the way that airport hassles and difficulties are driving visitors away. The pilots, a wellspring of contributions in the form of the Air Line Pilots Association, have done their bit, with a questionnaire sent to all the candidates. The questionnaire, according to their magazine, focused on economic issues such a foreign ownership and cabotage or traffic rights. One candidate, Dennis Kucinch (left), would strongly increase cabotage restrictions. Kucinich is trailing in the polls, hurt by his outspoken opposition to globalisation and possibly by his revelation that he saw an Unidentified Flying Object.
Meanwhile, the one-man Air Travelers Association backed Barack Obama because he is the forward thinking type of candidate who would support ATC modernisation. No word from association director, founder, and Chairman David Stempler if he’d spoken to Obama.