New estimates from the U.S. Travel Association show travel supports 15.7 million jobs across almost all U.S. industries. Find more 2018 economic impact stats in the NTTW toolkit and U.S. travel industry answer sheet.

Travel has a positive impact on so many aspects of our lives: from the memories it helps us create with family and friends, to the trillions in economic output it delivers and the millions of American jobs it supports. So, for this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week (May 5-11), we are spotlighting a different example each day of why travel matters to America.


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Use Tuesday, May 7 to celebrate how travel matters to America’s jobs.

15.7 million reasons why travel jobs matter

When one thinks of travel industry jobs, a few familiar faces come to mind: the workers on the “front lines” of the industry, such as waitresses, hotel managers or amusement park ticket takers. But the travel industry is much more than just the person who hands you a set of room keys or serves you a burger; travel plays a critical role in creating and supporting millions of American jobs across all 50 states. Travel is America’s seventh-largest employer, and the industry directly employs 8.9 million workers and supports 15.7 million Americans across almost all U.S. industries.

And it’s not just chain hotels and renowned attractions driving the travel workforce. Main Streets across America thrive thanks to the travel industry; travel-dependent leisure and hospitality is the largest small business employer in the U.S.

Travel jobs matter for upward mobility

Nearly a quarter of Americans’ first jobs were in travel—and these jobs lead to real, serious careers. In fact, a third of Americans who started their careers in travel—from tour guides to lifeguards, from bellhops to housekeepers—went on to earn a bachelor’s degree. Travel jobs are a ticket to opportunity and a path to prosperity, allowing Americans the flexibility to pursue higher education and learn valuable, translatable skills for future success. 

This is an industry in which one can get a job, move up the ranks, pursue goals and support a family; more than half of all travel jobs earn a middle-class wage or higher. The average annual salary of an American whose first job was in travel is $82,000, and two in five Americans with a first job in travel earn more than $100,000 annually.

Travel jobs matter in every pocket of America

Travel jobs don’t just exist in big cities and beach resorts: there are travel jobs in all 435 congressional districts, and 47 states and the District of Columbia count travel among its top 10 industries for employment.

The travel industry workforce is expanding every year—advancing policies that help grow travel to and within the U.S. will create and support even more American jobs. Because when travel thrives, so does America—and American families: from Savannah to Seattle, from Tupelo to Tucson, and every small town, national park and roadside attraction in between.

How to participate:

  • On May 7, spotlight a notable travel worker’s story through video or at your Travel Rally Day event. If you’re holding an event, be sure to add it to U.S. Travel’s NTTW event map.
  • Tell the story of your own experience working in the travel industry on your social media accounts or in your organization’s newsletter.
  • Share on social media how a new business or attraction grew your community’s travel workforce.

Useful tools:

National Travel and Tourism Week is our industry’s time to celebrate the innumerable ways in which travel strengthens communities and enriches lives. Interested in other ways you can celebrate why “Travel Matters” during NTTW? View the full theme calendar. Don’t forget to include #nttw19 or #TravelMatters in your posts for a chance to be featured on our social channels and included in our wrap video. Planning an event? Add it to the official NTTW event map. Visit the NTTW toolkit for more resources to get involved.

U.S. Travel Association

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