Can you afford to pay $988 more in taxes each year? Whether you answer yes or no, there are probably other things you could be doing with that money. This amount is exactly the premium that every U.S. household would be forced to pay without the $115 billion in tax revenue that the travel and tourism industry generates nationally.
Recently, travel has been in trouble, and that’s bad news for our city, our economy and our workers. The weak economy has led some individuals and families to curtail or eliminate their vacation plans. To make matters worse, the actions of a few high-profile companies who received government bailout funds have created a toxic environment where mischaracterizations of travel for meetings and events is leading every company in America to think twice about sending its employees on business travel.
The unintended consequences of less travel and tourism are devastating for our economy. Mass cancellations of legitimate business travel as well as meetings and events around the country have already cost thousands of hotel and hospitality industry employees their jobs, while many more remain concerned about their futures. According to estimates by Smith Travel Research and the U.S. Travel Association, meeting, event and incentive cancelations in January and February 2009 resulted in more than $1.9 billion in lost travel spending and cost nearly 20,000 American jobs.
Travel and tourism plays a critical role in the nation’s economy as one of America’s largest industries. In fact, $740 billion was spent by domestic and international travelers in 2007. Travel is among one of the top 10 industries in 49 states in terms of employment, and one of every eight U.S. jobs is created directly or indirectly by travel and tourism.
Tuesday, May 12 is U.S. Travel Rally Day, and 36 cities throughout the nation will be showcasing the industry’s diverse, vibrant workforce, which includes everyone from hotel employees to restaurant workers to cab drivers and meeting planners.
The bottom line is that TRAVEL MATTERS to the national economy and to local communities. Should you decide to plan that Memorial Day getaway to see friends and family or decide not to cancel that upcoming business meeting, know that your hard earned money is going to support a critical industry, keeping hardworking Americans employed and helping sustain the nation’s economy.
Roger Dow is the President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association