Think back to your fondest memories. Chances are that many revolve around a trip or journey. Your first breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon as a young child. Seeing Abraham Lincoln perched on his chair as you walk up the steps of his memorial in Washington D.C. Maybe it’s just time spent with family or loved ones as you explore a new place together. Cherished moments.
Sure vacations have their mishaps. A missed plane, an illness in a foreign country, a feeling of desperation with language barriers. But even these set-backs can be life enriching through lessons learned and stories to tell.
This week those of us in the travel and tourism industry celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week. Mostly we trumpet what this amazing industry means to our country from an economic view point. It is substantial. According the U.S. Travel Association, travel generates $2 trillion for the U.S. economy and supports nearly 15 million American jobs. Travel contributes more than $129 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Here in the Yakima Valley visitors spend in excess of $350 million each year and support more than 3,500 local jobs.
But I think that travel offers something even more important. It’s a force for helping all of us to learn from other cultures, to be more understanding of the people and issues that shape our world. To connect with people. I remember a business trip I took to Haiphong, Vietnam, a few years back. During free time, our group wandered into the streets near our hotel. In no time I became separated from the others and I lost my bearings in the narrow, congested streets. A street vendor who had approached me earlier to buy post cards realized I was lost. He guided me back to the main boulevard within sight of the hotel, never asking for anything in return. He just smiled and pointed at the hotel. I bought a packet of his post cards and have them framed in my home. Needless to say that simple gesture helped to shape my view of Haiphong.
While the travel and tourism industry contributes substantially to the economic well-being of our communities, its fundamental mission is to serve our guests and to help them to have wonderful, life enriching experiences. In essence, the job of this industry is to help create memories.
President & CEO