Travel, tourism make difference
May is the monthwhere travel and tourism really kick up, so I thought I’d talk about our industry a bit.
On the campaign trail, there was much talk about a renewed focus on creating and keeping good American jobs. Atop performer in that category is an industry our leaders are pretty familiar with: travel.
Most people are likely familiar with the frequently touted ( and research- proven) positive effects of travel on ourwork performance, relationships and personalwellbeing. These effects are remarkable.
For instance, couples that travel together are more likely to make it past the five- year mark and less likely to divorce, according to a survey from the U. S. Travel Association and Edge Research.
Did you knowthat more Regina Gargano than 90 percent of kids see family vacations as a chance for “quality time” with their parents? What’s more, kids who travel are more likely to earn a college degree, and have on average a $ 5,000 higher median income as adults.
And it stands to reason that peoplewho travel are also less stressed and happier atwork. Travel is positive for all of us at any age. Eight in 10 senior citizens say travel makes them feel energized. It’s travel’s economic power, though, that arguably deserves more attention on the national, state and local levels.
Travel is a top- 10 employer in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Spending by travelers everywhere in the U. S., which currently totals more than $ 947 billion annually, supports 15.1 million American jobs. That’s one in nine Americans whose employment depends on a healthy travel industry. One in nine, that’s a pretty big deal. In Pennsylvania it’s one in 16, which is also a pretty big deal.
Policies that protect and promote travel, from improvements to our roads and airports, to safely keeping America’s doors open to international visitors, are necessary for the health of our country. Travel played a major role in America’s post- recession economic recovery; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry has recovered far faster than other economic sectors since 2008.
Travel is also our country’s number one export, accounting for 11 percent of all U. S. exports in 2015. It counts as an export because when international travelers visit the U. S., they are spending foreign currency on U. S. goods and services. And the best part? Travel jobs cannot be outsourced; all the jobs supported by inbound international travel are right here in the USA.
These types of economic benefits aren’t just isolated to top tourism destinations likeNewYork, Orlando and LasVegas either; they ripple throughout communities nationwide. Right here in our own community, 2014 visitor spending totaled $ 199 million, which included lodging, food and beverage, shopping, recreation and transportation sales. This accounted for 1,325 jobs in our county and labor income of $ 40.5 million.
Our state and local tax cofferswere then increased by $ 10.6 million andwe contributed $ 9.4 million in federal taxes aswell. That’swhy tourism is important and must be supported as an integral component of a comprehensive economic development plan at the local, state and federal levels of government.
All of these economic benefits and facts and figures aside, there’s plenty more to love about tourism in our community. Think about some of the things that attract travelers: quaint towns, architecture, lush mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and parks, history, heritage, art, culture and interesting attractions.
Don’twe residents enjoy these aspects every day as well? Of coursewe do! These characteristics of tourism indisputably add to our daily quality of life here at home.
Travel and tourism make a difference in our communities and lives every day. Please take time to celebrate with us in Schuylkill County this month by coming to the Tourism Expo at the FairlaneVillage mall from 10 a. m. to 3 p. m. May 13. You can also visit ourwebsite at www. schuylkill. org to access the calendar of events, local shopping guide, the trails directory, the outdoor recreation map and much more or stop by and see us in Union Station on the lower level and remember, “The more you travel, the more well- off you’ll be.”— R. J. Mitte ( Gargano is executive director of Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau)