Why does travel matter?
As you ponder that question, I’ll share some of my thoughts. When creating visit NC concierge’s 2019 brochure, I wrote that I fell in love with North Carolina the first time my dad took me to see “The Lost Colony.” My personal experiences confirm the U.S. Travel Association’s finding: sixty-two percent of adults say that their earliest, most vivid memories are of family vacations taken between the ages of five and 10!
Digging deeper, I believe the seeds of my curiosity about the world – its geography, history, peoples and cultures – were planted by my parents and my elementary teachers. Remembering Mrs. Long’s 4th grade history lessons, I especially recall the day we all dressed as children from around the world and brought in a “foreign” food to share. Mrs. Jones, my 8th grade teacher, nurtured my love of North Carolina and encouraged me to explore North Carolina’s history through novels and entering an essay contest as the state celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Carolina Charter of 1663.
Why does travel matter to you?
The travel industry is strong across North Carolina and around the country. This week we celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week (May 5-11) which showcases travel’s contributions to the economy, as well as its intangible impacts – strengthening families, fostering hometown pride, and building bridges that connect us to one another.
I recently returned from the Visit NC 365 Conference in Wilmington – the annual gathering of travel partners from across the state. North Carolina is the sixth most visited state, which is not surprising considering the state’s unmatched natural scenic beauty, unique history and diverse cultural attractions. The economic impact of travel across the Tarheel state supports 225,000 jobs while generating more than $1 billion annually in state and local taxes. Without federal, state and local travel-generated tax revenues, each household would pay an average of $1,300 more in taxes every year to maintain the same level of services. One of the best-performing U.S. exports, inbound travel, flies largely under the radar. It generates a $77 billion trade surplus for America’s economy. Travel powers our economies, strengthens our communities, and changes our lives.
Travel, for me, is an essential component of my lifelong learning journey. The sensory experiences of travel – the smell of pine as I traveled via motorcycle through the mountains of Colorado... the tastes of street food in Istanbul... the sights of a small herd of elephants on the edge of a dirt landing strip as we circled to land in the Serengeti... the shimmer of light on the White Cliffs of Dover as the sun rose from the east... the sounds of seagulls squawking as they dove for bread crumbs my children threw from the stern of the ferry crossing Pamlico Sound heading for Ocracoke Island... Big Ben chiming at noon... the feel of sand between my toes on Topsail Island – each and every one are all golden links in my chain of travel memories. I know you have them too. What are yours? Please share them with us on our Facebook page or through email. I’d love to hear from you.
But back to our original question...
Why does travel matter?
Have you ever considered yourself a diplomat? Each and every time we travel, whether it be domestically or internationally, we are ambassadors as we relay our travel stories and experiences. Camaraderie of fellow sojourners, new sights and shared laughter enhance the quality of our lives. Increasingly, we Americans are realizing the value of our vacation time. Those who take all, or most, of their vacation days report being 20 percent happier in their personal relationships and 56 percent happier with their health and well being than those who don’t.
As the seventh largest employer in the U.S. private sector, the travel industry supports one in nine American jobs. My first job, when still in high school, was in the travel-dependent leisure and hospitality industry – the largest small business employer in the U.S. As we approach the height of the travel season, take a few minutes to reflect on the rich tapestry of your life and the colorful threads your travels have woven into your life’s story. Whether your travel plans include trips close to home or an exotic destination far away, travel matters to our health, our families and our economy –providing jobs, strengthening communities and keeping us connected.
In every pocket of America, from the largest cities to the smallest towns – TRAVEL MATTERS.
We still have space available to travel to Roanoke Island and the Outer Banks on June 4-6th. Come join us as we create memories together.
Don’t just see North Carolina. Experience it!