In Decatur, we pass popular tourist sites like Point Mallard Park every day and may not even think of how it supports our community. But Point Mallard and others like Jack Allen Recreation Complex, the Old State Bank, the Historic Depot and Railroad Museum and our diverse restaurants are the backbones of our city and Morgan County.
Travel matters, and it improves Morgan County in ways that have a wide-reaching impact on local residents. Travel supports 2,287 direct and indirect tourism jobs in our business community, but it also influences in ways we don’t always see: travel can strengthen families, fosters hometown pride and build bridges that connect us with one another.
On the national level, travel is critical to the U.S. economy and American jobs. As a leader in workforce development and career advancement, travel creates and supports 15.7 million jobs across the U.S. – making it the seventh-largest private sector employer. In 2018, traveler spending generated $171 billion in total tax revenue, including $78.6 billion in state and local revenue. That $78.6 billion can pay for a host of critical resources: it’s more than enough to pay all state and local police and firefighters, or the more than one million public high school teachers.
Travel is powerful for cities and states, and Morgan County is no exception. In 2017, we had $209,875,893 million in tourist expenditures, and lodging taxes generated more than $1,053,185 and $52,240,371 million in earnings.
Think back to your first job. Maybe you worked at Point Mallard Park, or maybe your children or grandchildren work there now. For many – one-third of Americans to be exact – travel is the front door to a promising career. Americans whose first job was in travel have an average career salary of $81,900, and two in five of those whose first job was in travel are now earning more than $100,000.
Think about how travel matters to businesses like Tennessee Valley Pecan Company, Big Bob Gibson’s, or Morgan Price Candy: travel-dependent leisure and hospitality is the largest small business employer in the U.S.
Those are only a few reasons why it’s so important to keep welcoming visitors to Decatur-Morgan County, and why our industry is elevating the message of “Travel Matters” during National Travel and Tourism Week May 5-11. We encourage you to join us in observing NTTW this year by engaging on social media and tagging your photos and posts with the #nttw19 hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also, contact your state and federal representatives and them why travel is important to our area. Let’s celebrate all that travel does for Morgan County and our country!
Danielle Gibson is the president and CEO of Decatur Morgan County Tourism, which is a partner organization of the Chamber. For more information about the organization and the work they do, please click here.