Travel, tourism make dif­fer­ence

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - News -

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)

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