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America Outdoors E-News

May 12, 2008

Coast Guard Authorization Bill Passes House with Sec. 302 Intact. Appeals Made to Senators Cantwell and Snowe in Senate. Jim Gilmore to Keynote at AO's 20th Anniversary Marketing and Management Conference December 3 - 5
New York Times and USA Today Cite America Outdoors in Coverage of Active Travel Are You Going Green?
AO Asks NPS to Approve Fuel Surcharges for Concessioners
Coast Guard Authorization Bill Passes House with Sec. 302 Intact. Appeals Made to Senators Cantwell and Snowe in Senate.

The Coast Guard Authorization bill, H.R. 2830, which includes language in Section 302 to re-establish tax and fee authority for local and state governments on navigable waterways, passed the House in late April in a surprise vote. The bill would authorize states and local governments to charge sales and similar taxes on river trips. In a dispute over a similar tax in Polk County, Tennessee, the County claims outfitters owe nearly $2 million in taxes and have threatened to confiscate their property. They argued in an appeal brief that Congress never intended this exemption, even though it has been law since 1884 to prevent multiple jurisdictions from levying taxes on federally navigable waters.

H.R. 2830 includes obscure language in Section 302 that amends the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act of 1884 that few would understand unless they had followed this bill. Representative Don Young (R-AK) asked for insertion of the language even though the bill's primary sponsor is Representative Oberstar, (D-MN). Under existing legislative authority, states and local governments may charge fees on navigable waterways if they provide safety or security enhancements. . However, Section 302 language authorizes overlapping and new fees even if outfitters are paying high fees for government regulation. If it passes the Senate, river, coastal tour and fishing services will be subject to new or renewed taxes and fees at a time when many seasonal businesses are struggling to cope with high fuel and operating costs. Vessels involved in foreign commerce are exempt once again demonstrating why it is sometimes easier for some companies to operate overseas than in the U.S. In the U.S. every layer of government thinks they are entitled to taxes and fees on small business. The Senate version of the Coast Guard Authorization does not include this language. America Outdoors is working vigorously to keep Sec. 302 out of the Senate version of the Coast Guard Authorization bill, S. 1892, overseen by Senator Cantwell's subcommittee (D-WA) in the Senate.

New York Times and USA Today Cite America Outdoors in Coverage of Active Travel
  Recent articles in the New York Times (Sunday, May 11) and in USA Today (May 2nd) gave a boost to outfitted trips. Both articles included quotes from AO's executive director regarding the outlook for the coming season. The New York Times articles focused on the benefits to river trips from this year's snow pack.
Jim Gilmore to Keynote at AO's 20th Anniversary Marketing and Management Conference December 3 - 5
  Shortly after the conclusion of last year's conference, America Outdoors contracted with Jim Gilmore, co author of The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage and Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want, published by Harvard Business School Press in late 2007. Mr. Gilmore will be spending the day with us on December 3rd providing unique, custom programming designed to help you expand your business and think creatively about new opportunities to enhance your customers' experience.

"I promise that this year's event, the 20th Anniversary of our first Confluence, will be the strongest, most compelling program that we've ever presented. You will take away ideas and new skills that are on the leading edge of travel industry marketing and management," said David Brown, Executive Director of America Outdoors. Another program entitled "Makeover of the Outfitted Trip" will feature a year long research project by a marketing expert who mystery shopped and participated in 4 outfitted trips with a digital camera in hand. A bike tour, a guest ranch vacation, an international trip and a rafting trip were in his itinerary. From the initial reservation to the the trip's end, he'll reveal what he found and how you can generate more value for customers and more business.

Add value to your customer's experience and to your business by planning to attend the 20th Anniversary Confluence: AO's International Marketing and Management Conference for outfitters and adventure resorts, December 3 - 5, 2008 in Knoxville, TN.
Are You Going Green?
  Let us know of any special green programs that your company has implemented. We plan to post them on the AO website. These programs must be authentic, save energy and money, educate the public, or substantially reduce waste or polluting chemicals.

Send news of your special projects to dbrown@americaoutdoors.org
AO Asks NPS to Approve Fuel Surcharges for Concessioners
  NPS concessioners are subject to having their prices approved by the agency, which bases those approvals on the previous year Consumer Prices Index (CPI) or comparable charges for similar services outside the Parks. Because prices for 2009 are currently based on CPI data beginning as far back as the last quarter of 2007 and because fuel prices change dramatically and are not predictable by retrospective CPI data, AO has asked the Director of Concessions to consider allowing a fuel price surcharge. We'll keep you posted.
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America Outdoors® Inc., PO Box 10847, Knoxville, TN, 37939

America Outdoors Staff Title E-mail address
David L. Brown Executive Director dbrown@americaoutdoors.org
Robin Brown Communications Director robin@americaoutdoors.org
Chrystal Graham Office Manager office@americaoutdoors.org
Office Phone 865-558-3595
Office Fax 865-558-3598

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