For you, travel might be a relaxing getaway at a luxury resort, or an exciting adventure with your family at an exotic locale. Travel gives us the opportunity to encounter locations and experiences that are beyond the day-to-day life. But for the 15.7 million American employees that are supported by the travel industry, it means something else.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, travel jobs have grown by 22% in the private sector within the last decade. Travel is America’s second largest industry export. Each of the 15.7 million people in this industry represent 1 out of every 10 in the private sector.

Each year since 1983, the U.S. Travel Association praises the American travel industry by celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week (May 5 -11). This year’s theme, “Travel Matters,” recognizes the many ways that travel can enrich our lives and strengthen our communities.

Here in our hometown of Grand Rapids, we see popular tourist attractions throughout our city, and we may not recognize how they support our community.

ArtPrize Frederik Meijer Gardens
LaughFest Grand Rapids Art Museum
Grand Rapids Symphony Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

These attractions, just to name a few, are the backbone of Grand Rapids. They define our community, provide our families with jobs, and have given us – and thousands of Grand Rapids visitors – a lifetime of memories.

Apart from these larger attractions, small businesses also rely heavily on the tourism industry. Think about your favorite small business in Grand Rapids or in your hometown. Is it a café, a specialized market, a restaurant? Travel-dependent leisure and hospitality is the largest small business employer in the U.S. That’s why it’s so important to keep welcoming visitors to our hometowns and our favorite local events. The amazing history, rich culture, and value we find in travel are key in enriching our lives.


We’d love for you to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week with us this year. Here are some great ways to get involved!

  • Contact our member of Congress and tell them why travel is important to you!
  • Get social and engage with the #nttw19 hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Share this blog post with a message of how travel matters in your community!
  • Follow along with the U.S. Travel Association’s daily articles about why travel matters to America.
  • Attend an event in support of National Travel and Tourism Week.

We hope this post has inspired you to support the tourism industry in your community in a big or small way! Share your travel story with us on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #AdventuresByLori.