By Leah Knepper, Vice President
Tomorrow marks the end of National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW). Established in 1983, NTTW is an annual celebration of the value travel holds for our economy, businesses and personal wellbeing.
COVID-19 has had a devasting impact on the U.S. travel and tourism industry, which generated over $1.6 trillion in economic output and supported 7.8 million jobs in 2017. Here are a few statistics from a March Oxford Economics report to consider:
- A decline of 31% for the entire year is expected. This includes a 75% drop in revenue over the next two months and continued losses over the rest of the year reaching $355 billion.
- Travel industry losses will result in a cumulative GDP impact of $450 billion in 2020.
- A decline of $55 billion in taxes will be realized as a result of travel declines in 2020.
- The U.S. economy is projected to lose 4.6 million jobs as a result of travel declines in 2020. (According to a more recent survey by Payroll company ADP, 8.6 million Leisure & Hospitality jobs were cut in April alone, indicating the impact is far worse than March data suggested).
The numbers make this year’s NTTW more crucial than ever. The theme for this year, Spirit of Travel, is intended to honor the industry’s strength, selflessness and resiliency. The spirit of travel is what brings joy and memorable experiences to millions, year over year. According to the U.S. Travel Association: “Now more than ever, the travel and tourism community must come together, support each other and remind our country that even through the most difficult times, the Spirit of Travel cannot be broken.”
Many of us may not realize the many different sectors directly affected by travel. Aside from the “big three” – accommodations, air travel and food services – there are others that are less obvious such as attractions, retailers, tour operators and other small businesses, and now even travel bloggers and influencers. To use an example that hits close to home, North Carolina historically ranks as the sixth most visited state in the country, which is a major contributing factor to why we currently rank sixth in unemployment claims. North Carolina stands to lose $5.6 million per day in visitor-related tax revenues.
To further underscore its importance, travel is an economic building block. To quote Maura Gast, former chair of Destinations International:
If you build a place people want to visit, you’ll build a place they want to live.
If you build a place where people want to live, you’ll build a place where people want to work.
If you build a place where people want to work, you’ll create a place where business needs to be.
If you create a place where business needs to be, you’ll create a place people have to visit.
The FWV team has been celebrating the spirit of travel, along with some of our clients, all week long on our social channels. If you haven’t had a chance, we hope you’ll check us out there. Along with many of you, we are eagerly counting down the days until it is safe to begin traveling once again. Until then, we’ll be dreaming and planning from afar, and we stand ready to support our travel clients through whatever comes next.