Industry NewsWashington DispatchCongressman Southerland Participates in 'Back of the House' Tour

Congressman Southerland Participates in ‘Back of the House’ Tour

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Steve Southerland (R-FL-02) participated in a tour of the Holiday Inn Resort – Panama City Beach in Panama City Beach, Fla., to learn more about the hospitality industry and its importance to the local economy.

The “back of the house” tour was led by Julie Hilton, vice president, Paradise Found Resorts and Hotels. During the tour, Hilton highlighted the impact of the resort as a driver of jobs and economic growth in Panama City, and of the travel and tourism industry as a whole on the Second Congressional District.

“We are extremely honored by Congressman Southerland’s visit and grateful for his keen interest in our operations,” said Hilton. “For nearly 50 years, we’ve been a family-operated business and currently operate five hotel properties with 950 guest rooms. We appreciate the time he took to meet with some of our 470 team members, including our valued international employees here through the important H-2B program, and to learn more about the important contributions these men and women make each day—both to our properties and the local economy in allowing employment of year-round workers.”

“I had a wonderful time visiting with the dedicated team of professionals at Holiday Inn Resort on Panama City Beach,” said Congressman Southerland. “Their commitment to courteous service for both travelers and residents alike represents the best of North and Northwest Florida’s hospitality industry. I look forward to continuing my work with these local stakeholders to strengthen our coastal economies and advance a pro-growth agenda in Congress that empowers these businesses to create jobs and expand their operations.”

The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), the sole national association representing the interests of the U.S. lodging industry, has actively worked with members of Congress to encourage them to visit hotels in their individual districts to learn more about the impact of the industry.

“The American Hotel and Lodging Association appreciates Congressman Southerland’s willingness to take time to visit one of the valuable components of Florida’s economy, and for his understanding of the crucial role played by hoteliers,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president/CEO. “Having seen the importance of the lodging industry first-hand through his tour of the Holiday Inn Resort, he can now return to Washington and share with his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives the importance of enacting legislation that will enable the lodging industry in Florida to continue creating jobs and driving economic growth.”

According to 2011 statistics compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Florida lodging industry is responsible for 157,756 jobs and $5.611 billion in wages. As of July 2013, there were 3,562 lodging properties across Florida, comprised of 410,550 rooms. Smith Travel Research (STR) reports that total room revenue generated by the lodging industry in 2012 was $9.653 billion.

Nationally, the lodging industry supports 1.8 million jobs at 52,529 properties comprised of 4.9 million rooms.