No Fun at FunSide Forum

No Fun at FunSide Forum

No solutions offered to increasing gas prices.

There is no good reason why gasoline prices continue to rise. It’s unreasonable and unconscionable.

That was the assessment of Mahlon G. “Lon” Anderson, director, Public and Government Affairs, AAA Mid-Atlantic Region, during his

address last Friday morning to members of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association attending the FunSide Forum at the 100 King Street Restaurant.

“The price of gasoline has risen one cent a day since March 1 for an average increase of 25 cents per gallon. The last time we saw a run up like that we started a war in the Middle East and we experienced one of the nation’s most devastating hurricanes. This time there is no good reason what so ever,” Anderson said.

“The oil companies have just announced the largest quarterly profit for any corporations in American history. Isn’t $10 billion in one quarter enough?” Anderson asked. “Why is this happening? There is no good reason.”

Speaking on the topic, “Will Prices at the Pump Affect Summer on the FunSide?” Anderson said, “Tourism in the Washington area is doing very well, but traffic is terrible. And, most visitors to the nation’s capital drive here.”

Anderson threw out a host of statistics about travel and visitors to the Capital region, but never answered the central question, will increasing gasoline prices impact tourism in Alexandria. Instead he cited national figures pertaining to the cost of operating a vehicle and railed against the State General Assembly for not backing AAA legislative agenda.

The closest he came was his assessment of congestion in Northern Virginia. “We [AAA] believe that congestion in Northern Virginia is strangling the golden goose. We supply 40 percent of the economy of the Commonwealth. Even the rural legislators should be able to understand that. But they don’t,” he said raising his voice to an ear shattering crescendo.

When asked for specifics as to what Alexandria could do to offset the high gasoline prices and encourage tourism, Anderson’s answer was, “Look for innovative ways to aid travelers to get here.”

Even the AAA handout touted ways to contact legislators to advance the road building element of the transportation debate.

PRIOR TO ANDERSON’S ADDRESS, Merrie Morris, membership director, ACVA, unveiled the organization’s new full-size city map which pinpoints dining and shopping establishments as well as business services, performing arts, and tours. “This will be distributed through the visitors’ center as well as through a variety of venues throughout the city,” she said.

The map was produced by the same company that designed ACVA’s web site, according to Morris. It will complement the smaller pocket version released earlier by ACVA.

Susan Gordon and Wendy Albert, members of ACVA’s Restaurant Committee announced a “citywide marketing opportunity to increase lunch and evening business” at eateries throughout the City. “In keeping with the spirit of the 400th Anniversary, we would like to encourage restaurants to offer a three course pre-fixed lunch or dinner menu priced at $16.07 available from May 27 through June 3,” they said.

“ACVA’s proposed restaurant promotion is a great way to welcome the thousands of visitors who are anticipated during Godspeed’s week-long visit and the Landing Party Festival that will line the waterfront,” said Jo Anne Mitchell, CEO ACVA.

The price of the meals was chosen to coincide with the date of the settlement at Jamestown, VA. Alexandria will host the newly commissioned Godspeed as the fist stop along its inaugural sail up the East Coast in celebration of America’s 400th Anniversary.