‘Made in America’ report highlights value, importance of promoting tourism

The U.S. Travel Association this week released an in-depth report detailing travel and tourism’s indispensable role in states’ and communities’ economic health.

Entitled “Made in America: Travel’s Essential Contribution to Economic Development,” the 50-page report utilizes case studies and economic data to educate policymakers and the public about the critical need for sustained efforts to promote their jurisdictions as travel destinations.

While the report delivers a positive message, its findings warn that the financial toll for America’s communities can be devastating when tourism dollars stop flowing in.

The report also looks to the private sector for lessons on the importance of marketing—including why large companies like Comcast, P&G, and GM find it important to continue heavy investments in advertising even when their brands are universally known.

“We’ve seen it time and again: when jurisdictions stop investing money on tourism promotion, traveler volume slows, and the economic loss can be very painful,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. “Even when they learn a tough lesson and flip the funding switch back on, it can take years to recover their previous market share.

“Misguided decisions to cut or eliminate investment in tourism promotion usually ends in regret, followed by reversal. The bad experiences of other jurisdictions should serve as a cautionary tale—slashing marketing costs visitors, which costs their spending, which costs tax revenue. The outcome is almost always the opposite of the intended ‘savings.’”

Without the $165 billion travel generates annually in total tax revenue, each U.S. household would have to pay $1,300 more in taxes every year, according to the report.

That $165 billion equates to:

• The salaries of all 320,000 state and local firefighters and 662,000 state and local police officers across the U.S. combined.

• The salaries of all one million public high school teachers in America.

• Fifty-eight percent of state and local governments’ capital spending on transportation and water infrastructure nationwide.

• The cost of educating 5.6 million of the 50 million students enrolled in elementary and secondary public schools across America.

The case studies in the report spotlight numerous specific benefits of tourism marketing, including the value it brings for rural communities, small businesses, crisis management (i.e. recovery from disasters like Hurricane Harvey), bettering quality of life for residents, and more.