Mayor Rebuts Criticism of Trip: Seeks Business, Tourists from Asia
Salmon, Barrington, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Dismissing critics who question his pending trip to the Far East, Mayor Marion Barry counters that Washington would be the beneficiary of new businesses, more commerce and a larger flow of tourists into the city.
"There are those who criticize me, but they don't understand the international nature of the city," said Mr. Barry yesterday during a news conference he held to discuss his nine-day trip to Seoul and Beijing. "Those who criticize us should also criticize Governor [George F.] Allen [who has traveled to Asia on trade missions].
Mr. Barry, who leaves tomorrow, will be accompanied by nearly a dozen Korean-American and Chinese-American business leaders who will either help finance the trip or who were instrumental in pulling it together, he said.
The trip has triggered a public outcry, with some critics saying the city would be best served if Mr. Barry stayed home as the city lurches from one political and financial quagmire to another.
Perhaps the most contentious issue is the battle for control of public schools. The D.C. financial control board is planning to officially release this week its plans to reform the schools that include diminishing the authority of the elected 11-member school board and replacing Superintendent Franklin L. Smith.
"I'm not going to be held hostage in this city, not going to held hostage to that backward, anti-Washington, anti-investment thinking. . . . We're going to bring business and tourism back to Washington," Mr. Barry said.
He said the trip makes perfect sense because travel and tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry and the No. 1 private-sector industry in the District. Further, because the city has "taken a beating from the media" and domestic tourism has dipped, business leaders and city officials see Asia as a potential source of new business markets and tourism. …