Faces of Travel NTTW 2017

Orlando Job Growth – Travelers Making an Impact

On the campaign trail, President Trump promised a renewed focus on creating and keeping good American jobs. A top performer in that category is an industry he’s pretty familiar with: travel.

Most people are likely familiar with the frequently touted (and research-proven) positive effects of travel on our work performance, relationships and personal well-being. It’s travel’s economic power, though, that arguably deserves more attention.

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 over $990 billion annually, supports 15.3 million American jobs. That’s one in nine Americans whose employment depends on a healthy travel industry.

This week, travel industry workers across the country are celebrating the 34th annual National Travel and Tourism Week. This year’s theme, “Faces of Travel,” highlights the people behind our nation’s travel industry—and the need to craft smart, travel-friendly policies that keep their jobs flourishing.

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 service export, accounting for 11.2 percent of all U.S. exports in 2016.

Those economic benefits aren’t just isolated to top tourism hubs like New York, Orlando and Las Vegas either—they ripple throughout communities nationwide.

Given these extraordinary returns, it’s important that elected leaders seek avenues to support and expand travel to and within the U.S., and right here in Orlando.

Modernizing our travel infrastructure, particularly our airports, is one critical step. Not a single U.S. airport is ranked in the top 25 in the world. This is partly due to the financing structure that funds improvement projects at major airports, which has not been altered since 2000. If that were corrected, airports could modernize our World War II-era air traffic control system, make much-needed safety updates, and add gate space—which would spur competition among airlines by allowing more carrier options, improving prices and service for customers.

Strengthening the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), as well, would both boost our economy and improve security for all travelers in the U.S. The program allows pre-screened and pre-approved travelers from 38 of America’s closest and most trusted allied countries to enter the U.S. without a visitor visa. The VWP not only strengthens diplomatic relations and security standards, but VWP traveler spending also generates $190 billion in U.S. economic output each year.

We are also in position to boost travel’s effect on our lives and the Florida economy by encouraging the American workforce to use their earned time off. The U.S. is well on its way to becoming a “no vacation nation,” with a 20 percent decline in vacation days used since the year 2000. Many workers cite a lack of encouragement from employers and a work culture emphasizing productivity above balance. This lifestyle has consequences for our health, our families, our relationships and our work performance.

Growing travel through these means means Contempo can continue to do what we do best, along with the various attractions, resorts, restaurants, shops, and events that combine to make our region such a coveted destination.

Travel makes a difference in our communities and lives every day. As we celebrate the impact of travel this week, let your lawmakers know that they should promote strong travel policies that improve our business, economic, and personal well-being.