That’s something you likely hear from Missouri’s dedicated tourism professionals when you ask them about the travel industry in the Show-Me State, but it’s more than a catch phrase or something that’s chanted at industry meetings.
That’s part of the reason it’s important to recognize the efforts of the tourism industry and the role it plays in the national economy; National Travel and Tourism Week, May 4-12, offers the perfect occasion to do just that.
National Travel and Tourism Week was created in 1983 by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress. In support of that resolution, President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to observe the week with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
This usually means special events at destinations, travel-themed rallies and ceremonies featuring local and regional proclamations of support for the industry. National Travel and Tourism Week is celebrated the first full week in May, and in Missouri, a variety of National Travel and Tourism Week activities are taking place this year.
National Travel and Tourism Week marks a great time to celebrate the tourism industry in your area. Or, if you really want to get into the spirit of the week, explore an area of the Show-Me State you haven’t yet seen – or visit a spot to which you’ve been anxious to return.
Missouri is blessed to have a rich and diverse lineup of tourism assets to entice travelers. Of course many people know about iconic sights such as the Gateway Arch and destinations such as Lake of the Ozarks, but there are many hidden gems that surprise even our own residents.
For example, did you know one of the nation’s premier scuba diving venues is found right here in Missouri? Bonne Terre Mine, one of the world’s largest man-made mines, has a 1-billion-gallon lake where scuba enthusiasts can go to get certified and to dive for “treasure.”
Missouri’s outdoor opportunities also offer a wonderful chance for exploration. Did you know we’ve been recognized as the Best Trails State in the U.S.?
Last month at the National Trails Symposium in Arizona, Missouri was honored for its collection of unique, beautiful, rugged and accessible outdoor trails by American Trails, a national nonprofit organization that works on behalf of the nation’s hiking, biking and riding trails. It’s a significant designation – one Missouri proudly carries and will work to retain for years to come.
So there’s the “sales pitch,” if you will. Let’s now look at some facts that help drive home tourism’s importance.
In Fiscal Year 2012 (July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012), tourism was an $11 billion industry for the Show-Me State. It employed some 281,000 Missourians and generated more than $461 million in tourism-related sales tax revenue.
Nationally, the U.S. Travel Association reports travelers spurred $2 trillion in spending, resulting in $129 billion in tax revenue. That spending supported 14.6 million American jobs – jobs that cannot be outsourced.
The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is proud to serve as the official tourism marketing arm for our state. Although we often talk about our business as being one that involves “selling fun,” we take the work very seriously.
As a result, we’re proud to report Missouri welcomes approximately 36 million visitors annually, and in FY12, Missouri received $3.22 in state tax revenue for every dollar invested in MDT’s budget.
That makes tourism one of the state’s top exports.
What are we exporting, exactly, when our goal is to import visitors?
Simple. We’re exporting the Missouri experience – the feelings and memories, even tangible items such as photos and souvenirs, people take back home with them.
And while we’re exporting experiences, Missouri, and the nation, benefit from tourism spending at restaurants, lodging establishments, transportation services and retail outlets, to name just a few. As a result of that spending, the U.S. Travel Association reports, tax revenue generated by travelers helps reduce taxes paid by U.S. households by $1,060.
Finally, it’s important to remember tourism supports small businesses, the backbone of Missouri’s economy. We’re fortunate to have so many small businesses operating in the tourism industry – many are family ventures passed down from one generation to the next – and we know they will continue to be supported by travelers for years to come, due to the excellent levels of service they provide.
So, at the end of the day, what does all this ultimately mean to Missourians?