There is an event in May that will pass with too few people knowing it even happened – unless you decide otherwise. May 9th-17th this year is the 26th Annual National Travel and Tourism Week, an attempt to generate awareness of the importance of travel to the nation’s economy. On May 12th CVBs across the country will be promoting the message that “Travel Matters“.
“Swine Flu” is now H1N1 Flu to avoid damage to the pork industry. I wonder if those well-represented hogs know how good they have it?
Indeed travel matters, despite the fact that our state and national leadership often acts as though it does not. With a carelessness that says a great deal about how little thought is paid to the travel industry, Joe Biden blunders through a statement that he would certainly not get on a plane during the Swine Flu episode. Companies are attacked for holding meetings and conventions at resorts and travel seems to have become stigmatized as an unnecessary luxury. A case of the flu becomes a reason to impose an irrational fear of travel and tourism onto the mind of the public. The United States is almost alone in the world in the conspicuous absence of a national tourism office and our post-9/11 xenophobia makes America one of the most difficult countries in the world for those outside of the country to travel to and makes Americans very timid travelers in general.
Perhaps it is high time that events like National Travel and Tourism Week not be such a well-kept secret. If every travel agent in the country would write a letter to their Congressional and state capital delegations, a very pointed grassroots message would be heard in our legislative offices that Travel Matters.
Need some fodder for your letter?
- Did You Know that travel and tourism is a $1.6 trillion industry in the United States? If one dollar bill equaled a second of time, then $1.6 trillion would equal almost 51,000 years.
- Did You Know that travel and tourism generates $110 billion in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments? If you place 110 billion one dollar bills end-to-end, they would circle the world 419 times.
- Did You Know that each U.S. household would pay $995 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry? $995 will buy about five weeks of groceries for a family of four, will fill the average car with gas 17 times, or will even pay the average cost of a ticket to a Michigan vs. Ohio State football game.
- Did You Know that the travel and tourism industry is one of the country’s largest employers with 7.5 million direct travel-generated jobs? You could fill the Louisiana Superdome a hundred times over with people directly employed in the industry.
- Did You Know that direct travel-generated payroll totals $178 billion and that 1 out of every 8 U.S. non-farm jobs is created directly, indirectly or is induced by travel and tourism?
- Did You Know that the travel and tourism industry is one of America’s largest service exports? International travelers spent more on their visits to the United States than U.S. residents spent while traveling abroad, creating a trade surplus of $8.3 billion for the U.S. in 2006.
Source: US Travel Association “Travel Industry Fun Facts”
Better yet, need a letter? Or Talking Points, press releases or just a bit more insight into U.S. Travel Rally Day?
When we make our elected representatives more aware of the importance of our industry, we elevate the profile of all travel professionals. However, there has been very little coverage of this event in the travel agent trade journals or even in mass media. When an event like this can pass under the radar of so many affected by its target industry, it’s no wonder that our political leadership can so carelessly toss out a stray statement that does great damage.
Take the time this week to write your state and federal representatives. Let’s make sure people start taking notice of the importance of the travel industry to the health of our national economy.