For some positive antidotes to that depressing and inaccurate, yet still pervasive, stat about American travelers – that a mere 20 percent of U.S. residents hold passports – consider these figures from the U.S. Travel Association:
- U.S. residents logged 1.6 billion trips for leisure purposes in 2012
- 1 out of every 8 jobs in the U.S. depends on travel and tourism, an industry that generated $200.9 billion in payroll for those directly employed in U.S. travel
- Direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.3 billion a day, $97.7 million an hour, $1.6 million a minute, and $27,125 a second!
The bottom line: Traveling is a powerful force that’s good for everybody, which is the underlying message of National Travel & Tourism Week, starting May 4 and running through May 12. Currently, more than 60 locations across the country, including state and local tourism boards and travel businesses, are hosting some pretty nifty events. Here, a quick rundown of highlights sure to bring out the travel bug in you.
New Orleans: Of course, the Big Easy wants to put on the biggest celebration for Travel Rally Day, which is set for Tuesday, May 7 and designed to celebrate the positive impact of travel on local communities and businesses. The city will host a Mardi Gras-style parade featuring marching bands, mini-floats, stilt walkers, and more.
Beaumont, Texas: Appropriately enough, this Texas town is doing big things for National Travel & Tourism Week, with a packed itinerary of events. Among them: a family art day and car show, free or discounted admission to area museums and attractions, and Beaumont Destination Training, in which community members board a motor coach for a complimentary tour of local attractions in order to become “ambassadors of positivity spreading the word about the good things happening in Beaumont” (registration required).
Greensboro, North Carolina: To celebrate, Visit Greensboro is offering a slew of prizes via its online sweepstakes, which include two round-trip Amtrak tickets to New York, a night's stay in the beautiful O. Henry Hotel, wine tastings, and tickets to various attractions around Greensboro.
Fort Worth, Texas: On May 4, visitors and locals can take advantage of free admission to several notable museums, including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, which will also host a discussion of Elvis Presley in honor of an exhibit of The King that’s set to open on May 25.
Tennessee: Knoxville is promoting its “Be a Tourist in Your Hometown” program, with a day-long event in Market Square (complete with free sweet tea) in which the faces behind tourist attractions are on hand to meet locals. And, visitors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park have the chance to be chosen as “Tourist of the Day” and be honored in a ceremony in front of the park’s headquarters.