by Loren G. Edelstein | March 2, 2017

Loren G. Edelstein, editor in chief of Meetings & ConventionsIt's hard to talk about current events, particularly in the context of the meetings realm, without being "political." This is a challenge many of us face as industry professionals. In recent years M&C has reported often on the fractious relationship between politics and meetings. We've detailed the industry's response to recent state-level battles in award-winning features such as "Playing Politics" and "Coping With Controversy."

Disputes over civil rights, immigration, sexual orientation, environmental issues and reproductive rights have all had an impact on our industry, leaving behind a trail of heated protests, canceled events, and destinations reeling from lost travel and meetings business.

Today, the challenge is on a global scale, with the flow of international travel taking center stage. As David Scowsill, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, warned recently, "The United States is in danger of taking the same path it took after the 9/11 terror attacks, which led to a decade of economic stagnation in the travel and tourism sector." He blamed "strict visa policies and inward-looking sentiment" for a $606 billion loss in U.S. tourism revenues from 2001 to 2010, per research by the U.S. Travel Association; deterring an estimated 78 million inbound international visitors during this period cost the U.S. economy some 467,000 jobs.

This month's cover story, "Confronting the Rise of Nationalism," takes on the critical issue of xenophobia -- in the U.S. and elsewhere -- and was in the works long before the new administration took office. I applaud contributing editor Barbara Peterson for tackling this hot topic with objectivity and insight.

As always, I welcome your feedback.