National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), the annual celebration of the travel and tourism industry, is days away.
While this NTTW will undoubtedly feel different than in years past, it is more important than ever for our industry to come together and support each other during this special week. This year’s theme, the Spirit of Travel, recognizes the strength and resilience of the travel industry, and looks ahead to the eventual recovery from the current health and economic crisis.
But what does the spirit of travel mean to me? In these difficult days, I recall the enduring story behind one of New York City’s most iconic landmarks, beloved by visitors around the world: the lion sculptures that flank the entrance of the New York Public Library.
Originally dubbed Leo Astor and Leo Lenox in 1911 after the library’s founders, the lions were rechristened in the darkest days of the Great Depression with the monikers they still carry today, named for the two characteristics New Yorkers would need to withstand the challenging times ahead: Patience and Fortitude.
These two words, to me, embody the spirit of our industry in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not know exactly when this crisis will be resolved, nor do we know when normal life can fully resume. But in the face of such uncertainty, the travel industry has exhibited patience by listening to and adapting to expert guidance, and has shown incredible fortitude in its efforts to preserve the livelihoods of those whose jobs depend upon travel. Even in this challenging moment, our industry’s unity and indomitable spirit are worthy of celebration.
But of course, spirit alone will not be enough to see us through this crisis. All segments of the travel industry—destination marketing organizations, hotels, meeting and event planners, independent tour operators, attractions, motor coach operators, domestic leisure travel, international inbound travel and travel-related businesses—need additional, immediate relief to ensure their survival.
And since many of us must put our actual travels on pause right now, U.S. Travel will host a “virtual road trip” during NTTW showcasing the many destinations, businesses, experiences and attractions that inspired this year’s theme. This should serve as a powerful reminder to policymakers—as well as travelers in general—of what we are fighting for: the survival of an industry that will be critical to fueling America’s economic recovery.
I’m looking forward to seeing the heart and soul of the travel industry on full display this NTTW, and I ask all of my friends across the industry to stay positive and hang in there for a little while longer. Like Patience and Fortitude, our industry will witness difficult days. But 90 years from now—and decades beyond—I believe the spirit of travel will endure, strong as ever.