Niagara Gazette — Ready or not, the season is upon us; the big Memorial Day unofficial opening of Niagara’s tourist season is just around the corner. Our local tourism dependent hotels, restaurants, stores, shops and attractions are all busy dusting off and sprucing up for what we all hope and pray will be a banner year, but they’re not the only ones who have to prepare; are YOU ready?
That’s right, you.
Whether you are involved in the business or not, we are all impacted by the success or failure of the season; there are a few things that each and every one of us can do to help assure a healthy, prosperous experience this and every season and all year round.
In something that the U.S. Travel Association calls “the travel effect” (ustravel.org), some rather startling data demonstrates just how big and impactful the industry is today. Take a quick gander:
• Direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $621.4 billion in 2013.
• Spending on leisure travel generated $91.9 billion in tax revenue.
• More than 3 out of 4 domestic trips taken are for leisure purposes (78 percent).
• U.S. residents logged 1.6 billion person‑trips for leisure purposes in 2013.
• Top leisure travel activities for U.S. domestic travelers: (1) visiting relatives; (2) shopping; 3) visiting friends; (4) fine dining; and (5) beaches.
• Tourism supported 14.9 million jobs, including 7.9 million directly in the travel industry and 7.0 million in other industries.
• 1 out of every 9 jobs in the U.S. depends on travel and tourism.
• Generated $209.5 billion in payroll for those employed directly in U.S. travel.
• Travel is among the top 10 industries in 49 states and D.C. in terms of employment.
• Nationwide, travel is number six in terms of employment compared to other major private industry sectors.
Perhaps the two most important things we can do to help capture our share of this extraordinarily lucrative market is, first to adjust our attitudes; be warm, friendly and welcoming to tourists, second, make sure that our tourism professionals are properly trained and prepared, and third, act like company is coming and spruce up the neighborhoods, especially around those corridors where we know the bulk of our guests will be looking as they approach what they have traveled, many of them, thousands of miles to experience.