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MEEKER I The nation has celebrated travel and tourism as an economic engine during the first week of May since 1983. Typically the industry gathers to rally, introduces new products, awards front-line workers for the role they play in helping visitors make memories of a lifetime and celebrates accomplishments in creating jobs to fuel the economies of every community across the nation.
This year will be a little different. There will be no group rallies. Instead, our destinations will join together virtually to spotlight resilience and hope in the face of the coronavirus under a theme: the Spirit of Travel.
National Travel and Tourism Week arrives at an opportune moment to unite the industry and our community. We are reminded that history demonstrates the indomitable spirit travel and tourism plays in troubling times. In the 1970s, gas shortages nearly bankrupted many Colorado destinations because people were afraid to drive far from home. Communities collaborated with one-tank messages allowing mom and dad to plan a traditional summer road trip with the kids. After 9/11, a battered industry quickly united to rebuild confidence in the safety of air travel. Ten years ago, during our deep recession, the travel industry led the way to economic recovery creating new jobs faster than any other industry sector.
The spirit of travel isn’t only found in far-off places. When residents embrace the spirit of travel by supporting local businesses and helping their neighbors, they are also playing a key role in rebuilding their community. It’s hard to imagine Meeker without the annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials. It’s activities like Range Call, visiting iconic Trapper’s Lake or fly fishing the White River that make Meeker a memorable destination and a special place to call home.
Bringing the tourism industry to a standstill hurts locals in agriculture and impacts oil and gas jobs too. But there is an incredible spirit and resiliency in our industry. You see it every day from restaurants delivering meals curbside to hotels housing vulnerable family members in safe, clean quarters. Hospitality comes in many forms.
When the time is right, people will want to travel. Things will be different. Different can be good for Meeker. In the beginning, travel by personal vehicle will be the preferred method of transportation. Clean, safe, uncrowded destinations like Meeker will be a preferred choice. Meeker’s spirit of travel and hospitality will stoke demand and help our friends and neighbors rebuild sales.
Different is not bad. It’s just not the same. Let’s continue to unite together, support each other and remember the spirit of travel cannot be broken. Now is the time for the spirit of travel to be protected and supported.
By KITTY CLEMENS | Special to the Herald Times