When people travel for leisure or business they not only support jobs by spending money on local products and services, they also deposit tax dollars into local communities that desperately need revenue. Without getting bogged down with precise dollar amounts, let's take a look at the economic ripple created by a family of four on a weekend getaway intent on keeping the cost down. They may stay in a limited service hotel, have breakfast in a diner, pick up items for a picnic lunch on-the-go while they hike or bike, then unwind by taking in a minor league ball game, enjoying hot dogs and soft drinks for dinner at the ball park. That is a modest getaway by any standard, yet look at how many workers they engage on their journey:
• hotel staff, including desk clerks, housecleaning, security, maintenance
• diner staff, including waitstaff, cooks, cashiers, dishwashers, managers
• grocery or specialty store clerks selling meats, cheese, drinks and snacks
• ballpark staff, including ticket takers, concession stand employees, ushers, not to mention ball players and umpires
• let's say they buy a trail guidebook, or rent bikes from a local outfitter, or pick up a souvenir t-shirt thus interacting with more retailers
Literally, dozens of jobs have been impacted and secured for another day.
Now, let's consider the local and state tax collections:
• lodging tax is collected at the hotel
• meals tax is collected at the diner and again at the ballpark
• state sales tax is collected on the supplies for the picnic lunch as well as on the sale of a guidebook or souvenirs
• a possible ticket tax is collected at the ballpark
• if our family stops for fuel on the way in or out of town, state and local gasoline tax is received
• all of the businesses who served our vacationers pay an annual business license fee (tax) that in Virginia is based on revenues so once again, thanks to the traveler for increasing the businesses' bottom line meaning more tax revenue long after they have gone home.
Now follow the money trail a step further:
• every employee who served our vacationers received a paycheck or tips and spent it on all kinds of things, like rent, utilities, new shoes, dinner and a movie with someone special, and every other necessity of life. All of this economic activity means more sales and meals tax not to mention income tax.
• the hotel, diner, retail shop and ballpark need to purchase products or services to restock their shelves, clean up or do routine maintenance to prepare for more customers. That means even more local economic activity.
All this activity results from a single family on a modest weekend getaway. Imagine the impact of an upscale vacation to a spa where the stay is longer and the shopping is for expensive art and antiques not peanut butter and jelly. Or imagine if this scenario were multiplied by 300 families traveling to a destination for their child’s soccer tournament. You're probably getting the feeling that my economic stimulus plan might have something to do with travel. Check back in a few days for the exciting unveiling of our plan.