Monetizing Tourism

Published 4/12/13
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Two words: Monetizing Tourism.

How many times have we heard that the tourism industry represents billions of dollars? We in the industry know it to be true, but the number is rather large for most non-tourism industry folks to wrap their heads around. As such, our industry does not get nearly the respect for what it means to the US economy that it should.

Take, for example, the following: Look at the parking lots of any major tourist attraction: Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sea World, Disney World – take your pick. Every single car in every single parking lot was bought by someone with a job in the tourism industry. Okay Mr. Car Dealer, how dare you not know how important tourism is to your bottom line?

Let's look at the bars and restaurants that thrive in our nation's downtown or beach areas. How long would these venues survive if not for a constant stream of tourist dollars?

Each U.S. household would pay $1,060 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by travel and tourism.

We can even look at the strength of tourism as it relates to the real estate industry. When you pull back the many levels, how many homes are owned, and how much in property taxes are being paid, by someone employed at a hotel, a hotel management company, a theme park or a convention center, just to name a few? It's not hard to see the heft of the industry we represent.

And don't get me started on the many types of new industries that were founded on the shoulders of the travel and tourism industry: Sports travel, touring companies (including the latest -- foodie tours) and glass-bottom boat tours. I could go on. In fact, sports travel has grown into its own mega-industry sparking a national trade show and many sports commissions across the country.

The US Travel Association just released a figure that shows each US household would pay $1,060 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by travel and tourism. Each! In fact, tourism is America's biggest export – and one for which we have NO competition! As we prepare to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week May 4- 12, let's try to engage in conversation with those outside the industry in ways that help bring home the point that “Tourism Keeps America Going!” (Roger Dow said it first but I think he would be okay with me repeating it.)