If airports are California’s
gateways, then hotels, bed and breakfasts, and inns are homes to travelers.
Whether people are visiting a place they’ve been to before, in town for
business or a conference, or exploring an area for the first time, those
friendly faces at the front desk, housekeeping and the concierge table are
ambassadors for a region.

In my roles with
the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP) and the California Travel and
Tourism Commission (CTTC), I’ve seen the sizeable return on investment for
hospitality, travel and tourism spending. The economic engine fueled by a state
or region’s travel and tourism budget should not be overlooked. In fact, the
U.S. travel and tourism industry must be treated as the jewel it truly is.

Travel and
tourism are crucial to the success of a state like California. We are the
number one travel destination in the country, but also a state fighting off
enormous financial burdens. Travel and tourism in California annually inject
$95.1 billion in travel spending into the economy, directly supporting 873,000
jobs and generating $6.1 billion in direct state and local tax revenues.

value and protect innovative industries such as software development, biotech
and agriculture. It is time the travel and tourism industry is valued and
acknowledged as a significant economic driver providing billions of dollars in
tax revenue and nearly a million jobs. The California experience was the
state’s top international export in 2009, generating more than $15 billion in
revenue. Tourism trumped aircraft, electronic circuits, computer parts and car
sale exports.

As a
service-related industry, tourism jobs can only be done by in-state employees,
and the work cannot be outsourced to other states or countries. In fact,
tourism spending in the state has more of a direct impact on jobs than in most
other industries.

Travel is a
vital part of our economic health. Let’s think about the value of tourism in
everyday life. And, in the meantime, travelers pack their suitcases and
take trips. Although they might not realize it, that’s their personal
contribution to the economic recovery.