Today marks the end of National Travel and Tourism week. All week long Twitter and Facebook have been abuzz with stories of how DMOs and CVBs have celebrated the occasion with contests, press releases and special events. Many places took the opportunity to educate the public and elected officials about the economic impact of leisure and business travel. Travelers come into communities and pay sales tax, meals tax, lodging tax, and because they spend money at all these local businesses they also impact annual business license taxes. Not to mention all the money that visitors spend in museums, shops, restaurants and convention centers makes it possible for these businesses to employ lots of people who then spend their money in the community. I have long believed that the travel industry does not get the respect it deserves for boosting local economies. So kudos to all the CVBs who took the opportunity to share the facts and figures with the public during this week.
There is, however, another benefit to travel and tourism that matters even more than the economic benefits. Travel enriches people’s lives. It introduces people to new cultures or at the very least new perspectives. It inspires people in so many ways. No photograph or YouTube video of the Grand Canyon can compare to actually standing at its edge and pondering God’s awesome creation. More than 200 years after his presidency, visitors still get goosebumps standing in the same room where Thomas Jefferson once stood. You can barely begin to grasp how enormous and complex the world is when you’ve spent 12 hours flying from Sydney to Los Angeles, going from daylight to night to daylight again, crossing the International Date Line, and seeing nothing but ocean below for the entire time. All the big and small experiences, lessons and joys of travel are made better when shared with friends or family. In everyone’s life travel can have a big impact, not necessarily the economic kind. It can’t always be measured, but it can be certainly felt inside where it matters most.
Makes me think that every week should be National Tourism Week.