OPED: Travel Matters in more ways than one

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RBC | National Travel and Tourism week is May 5–11, 2019. This year’s theme is “Travel Matters,” a recognition of the innumerable ways in which travel enriches lives and strengthens communities. It’s a time when travel and tourism professionals across the country unite to celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses and personal well-being.

Travel shapes outlooks on our world and on our lives. It defines who we are. It opens our eyes to new places, new cultures, and new ideas. It molds our perspectives and provides us the experiences that make us uniquely human. Without travel, the world would be a very different place. Freedom of movement and the right to travel is an internationally respected right that has withstood the test of time. Our leaders so valued travel as a vehicle for peace, it was enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and approved by 48 countries. 

Many Americans take the freedom to travel for granted, but the ability to move freely from one place to the next at any point in time is a unique human right that should always be appreciated and never discounted for how it matters. Americans enjoy the freedom to travel safely without being hindered by government, gangs or war. We often forget that many global citizens do not enjoy this freedom. Traveling together helps families to connect, creating everlasting memories and strong bonds. Travel systems connect America. Everyday people can choose to travel by plane, train, car, bicycle, and even on foot. Travel allows people to see, share, and experience the world. More than two-thirds (72%) of Americans report they would rather have money for experiences than things. Regardless of age, 88% of Americans say travel to a new place is at the top of their bucket list. But travel does much more than expand the viewpoints of individuals. 

Travel plays a major role in the world’s economy. Think about all of the industries directly affected by travel and tourism – airlines, transportation, guest ranches, outfitters, government agencies, conferences & conventions, hotels, food & beverage, recreation, ecotourism, and that’s just the beginning. Businesses operate and people build their lives and their careers around the travel and tourism industry.

The beauty of travel is that it is a renewable and sustainable resource that is also a low impact way to boost the economy. There will always be a steady flow of worldly travelers being drawn to new destinations. They travel to experience places, people, cultures, and ideas. It is their right as citizens of the world. While they travel, they spend money that supports towns, businesses, and the people that choose to make travel their livelihood. 1 in 10 U.S. jobs are in travel and tourism.  The industry generates $2.5 trillion for our economy.

In Colorado, travelers contributed $3.7 billion in revenues for federal, state and local governments. Funds that help pay for police, teachers and fire protection.  Without travel jobs, the unemployment rate in Colorado would be a whopping 8.7%!

In Rio Blanco County, overnight visitors spent $15.7 million and provided $7 million in earnings for our friends and family.  Those same overnight visitors pumped over $446,000 into our local tax coffers…and that number matters to everyone living here.

Travel matters in more ways than one. It’s something that everyone can stand behind. It provides worldly views, cultural awareness, supports millions of jobs, and is an essential part of the global economy. So get out there and go.  It’s good for you … it’s good for everyone!

I self-identify as a travel professional. By dedicating my life and career to the travel and tourism industry, I am working to make the world a better place. It’s a diverse and noble career choice that exists because of our collective right to travel. Connecting with people and creating memorable experiences through travel is something appreciated and celebrated in my household…even more so during National Travel and Tourism Week.

Kitty Clemens

By Kitty Clemens | Special to the Herald Times

Kitty Clemens is a Meeker resident with over 20 years of experience in service to the travel industry in Colorado and Montana. Clemens currently gives her time to the Meeker Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Main Street Project 45 effort. 

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