Many of us are likely familiar with the frequently touted (and research-proven) positive effects of travel on our work performance, relationships and personal well-being. But, with all the national conversation about creating and keeping good American jobs, how much thought do we give to travel’s economic power in our lives?
It certainly deserves our attention. Travel is a top-10 employer in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The industry played a major role in America’s economic recovery post-recession—and now, travel is our country’s number one service export, accounting for 11.2 percent of all U.S. exports in 2016. The U.S. travel industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has recovered far faster than other economic sectors since 2008. Spending by travelers everywhere in the U.S., which currently totals over $947 billion annually, supports 15.3 million American jobs. That’s one in nine Americans whose employment depends upon plenty of travelers moving to and within the U.S.
In South Dakota alone, visitor spending reached $3.8 billion and visitation increased to 13.9 million in 2016. Travel in the state generated $279 million in state and local taxes and this activity saved each South Dakota household $821 in taxes. Tourism employment grew 2.1% marking six straight years of employment growth
Our industry is one that relies on human interaction—whether it’s the front desk clerk at a hotel, the tour guide in a historic district, or the ticketing agent at an airport, our people are what make America a great place to visit and keep our industry strong. That’s why, as part of National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) 2017, May 7-13, our industry is shining the spotlight on the people behind our nation’s travel industry with this year’s theme—“Faces of Travel”—and highlighting the need to craft smart, travel-friendly government policies that keep their jobs flourishing.
In the Black Hills region, some early 2017 indicators are predicting an even better tourism summer season than in 2016. Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association has seen a significant increase in vacation guide requests, website and blog traffic, and social media engagement.
We encourage you to join us in our NTTW celebration. Here are a few ways to get involved:
- Attend the press conference on Monday, May 8th at 2 p.m. at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, featuring SD Governor Dennis Daugaard and SD Dept. of Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen.
- Join the Rapid City travel rally event on Tuesday, May 9th at Main Street Square beginning at 4 p.m.
- Contact your member of Congress and tell them about why travel is important to the Black Hills.
- Get social and engage with the #nttw17 hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For more great ideas and resources, check out this toolkit from the U.S. Travel Association.
This year’s NTTW is more than just another campaign. It’s a movement that positions the travel industry as a primary driver in the U.S. economy and an important part of our daily lives.