Let me ask a simple question. If you’re a United States citizen 18-years and older, you’re planning on voting in this year’s election, right? I volunteered on the presidential campaign one day this year and was shocked when two women in their thirties said they weren’t planning on voting in the presidential race.
It was less than 100 years ago that women in the U.S. were granted the right to vote through the opens in a new window19th Amendment which guarantees all American women the right to vote (1920). That’s right, LESS than 100 years. Globally, people have fought and gave up their lives just for the right to vote. People have DIED for the right.
Yes, this is a travel blog and I’m emphasizing the importance of voting on November 6 because who you elect into office – on local and national levels – will impact your future. It doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is, making your voice count is what matters.
Why I’m Obsessed with Voting for Travel
Little did I know my first step onto a opens in a new windowYellowstone hiking trail in 1987 were my first steps into a career in tourism. It was our family’s first true summer vacation, I was entering my senior year of high school and was overwhelmed with the amazing beauty encapsulated in the world’s first national park. That summer I vowed to return and two years later I did.
Tourism has been an important part of my adult life. While not so obvious, I eat, drink and sleep travel and tourism. It’s provided me an amazing career with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I’ve also been introduced to ways of giving back within the tourism community. I have participated in a opens in a new windowTourism Cares for America project and have scraped used hotel soap at opens in a new windowClean the World so it can be recycled and used in developing countries.
Travel & Tourism by the Numbers
Travel and tourism is good for the economy. The industry supports one in eight American jobs and directly supported 7.5 million jobs in 2011 and generates billions in revenue for local communities. Each U. S. citizen pays $1,000 less in taxes because of tourism. According to the opens in a new windowU.S. Travel Association:opens PDF file
- Generated $1.9 trillion in economic output in 2011
- Directly generated $124 billion in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments
- Generated $153 billion in travel exports. Combined with $110 billion in travel imports creates…
- $43 billion in balance of travel trade surplus for the U.S.
What about the importance of tourism in Florida? According to VISIT FLORIDA (2011)
- Florida welcomed 85.9 million visitors in 2011
- Tourism employed 1,013,100 Floridians in 2011 (that’s 38,000 more jobs, 3.9 percent increase, over 2010)
- Visitors spent more than $62.7 billion*
- Generated 22 percent of the Florida’s sales tax revenue*
*Indicates 2010 figures
I’m Selecting Candidates Who…
The travel and tourism industry is often misunderstood. Rather than manufacturing widgets, the industry generates positive experiences of a lifetime for families, couples, groups and solo travelers like me. Importantly, it supports jobs and offers revenue sources for communities.
Before casting your vote this November, take into consideration your candidate’s position for getting America moving. Specifically, since tourism is my life, I’m looking for candidates who support these points highlighted by the opens in a new windowU.S. Travel Association:opens PDF file
My ideal candidate will…
Support measures to welcome more visitors into the United States. The U.S. share of overseas travelers to the U.S. fell 17% from 2000 to 2010. When managed properly, tourism is a clean, low-impact industry.
Reduce travel hassles. Travel hasn’t kept pace with changes in high tech and new communications tools. Improving this will enhance everyone’s travel experience. Who else is waiting for the day when we don’t need to take off our shoes before boarding a plane?
Keep America meeting. Let’s do away with the opens in a new windowAIG effect. Sure, technology allows meetings but nothing tops face-to-face networking, meetings and attending trade shows. According to USTA, business travel brings about a $4 to $1 return on investment.
Commit to Lowering Energy Costs for Travelers. There needs to be a way to make travel affordable again and bring down those fuel prices slowing the economy and discouraging travel.
Strengthen communities and families. Vacations bring families together and traveling both near and far, expands a traveler’s perspective. (Such as my month-long visit to opens in a new windowJapan with Rotary’s Group Study Exchange program) Can you imagine how a nation could unite if its citizens had a first-hand understanding and appreciation of their country?
Exercise Your Vote
Again, I don’t care what your party affiliation is but I do care about you making your voice heard. Educate yourself about the issues and vote. It’s your right. Don’t throw it away.
Here are a few resources to help you up to speed on candidates:
FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links with hopes of supporting my traveling habit.