Today’s Loudoun Times makes much of Loudoun BOS chairman Scott York’s foreign travel in 2012, representing the county in England, Germany and Taiwan ostensibly to encourage investment in the cCounty. The actual cost of these five trips is unclear. Although the county’s portion of these trips was $5,800, the Northern Virgina Regional Commission, a taxpayer funded entity, paid for the trips to Germany. The trips to Taiwan were primarily covered by the Taiwanese government (why? you say).
Although York says he met with a pharmaceutical company considering a relocation to Loudoun, I’ve never seen anything that would suggest that foreign travel by any local politico ever has been a relevant factor in a company’s decision to move business to the US. Indeed, there’s really no question that these trips are primarily for the benefit of the elected officials (or private parties seeking to make inroads with them by sponsoring the trip). That said, it’s not implausible that these goodwill tours could bring some benefit, and so throwing some bread crumbs on the water (that is, $5,800) is not entirely a bad idea. It’s certainly not like he’s taking Air Force One with a huge entourage of cronies.
Bottom line on these foreign trips: little value, but little expense.