There are some things that you just can't put a number on.
You can calculate a country's gross national product or a family's net worth, for example, but those numbers don't tell you much about health or happiness. We know what it means to have a sense of well-being, but good luck trying to measure it.
In the travel business, we employ researchers and statisticians, both in government and in the private sector, who can tell us with pretty fair accuracy how much we spend on travel, how much is spent by foreign visitors, how many jobs the industry supports, how travel spending creates economic ripple effects.
And in fact, the U.S. Travel Association and its allies in the industry do an admirable job of husbanding this hard data and making sure that taxpayers and policymakers understand the contributions that travel and tourism make to the national economy.
Strategically this is an important core activity for any industry association. The energy industry has similar data, as do the auto industry, the machine tool industry, apparel, paper products, you name it.
But travel has always had a trump card, and we are pleased to see that U.S. Travel has a new campaign to play that card more aggressively.
That card is what U.S. Travel is now calling the Travel Effect, a phenomenon that most travel professionals understand intuitively: Travel is good for you. It enhances your well-being in ways that, say, paper products simply can't.
It can even make your kids smarter.
U.S. Travel has launched a website at www.traveleffect.com
to explain the Travel Effect with new research and hard numbers. U.S. Travel President Roger Dow explained, "What we've long known anecdotally, we will now prove through authoritative research: Travel has a positive effect on health, relationships, business performance and the well-being of communities."
U.S. Travel hopes to be putting out Travel Effect research reports on something close to a monthly basis, and the first report of 2013, coming in February, will cover the effect travel has on relationships.
Maybe they'll finally put a number on that.