This year's theme for National Tourism
Week, which starts on May 12, is "Travel & Tourism: America's
OK, it's not
Shakespeare, but the image of a front door is a welcoming image.
And if you think about it, the image conveys a simple but important
message, particularly in light of this country's declining appeal
to international travelers.
Travel is a portal.
It opens doors. It opens doors to human interaction and
understanding, and it opens doors to economic
This has been an
underlying theme of National Tourism Week for 24 years, and while
the travel industry has struggled at times to get the message
across, there are signs that the message is finally sinking in.
This is nowhere more evident than in California, where the
conservative and pragmatic Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has gotten
out in front of a plan to dramatically increase the state's
spending on tourism promotion.
saw that it was losing market share to other destinations, realized
that when it promotes tourism, it gets back every dollar it spends,
and then some, in jobs, tax revenue and other benefits. National
Tourism Week is designed, in part, to help bring Uncle Sam to the
For a suggestion as
to why this matters, take a glance at our By the Numbers feature,
"Survey: U.S. low on wish list for Chinese travelers."
A research firm asked travelers in China what country would they
visit if money was no object. Where would they go on the proverbial
"dream trip?" The top five answers were France, Switzerland,
Greece, Italy and Australia. Fewer than half named the
The U.S. came in
Don't we want
America to be the first answer?
you believe, as we do, that global warming is real and that human
activity has something to do with it, then we can all can take some
comfort that key leaders in the travel industry share those views
and are committing their companies to adapt their business
practices to a new sensibility.
As we report in our
Cover Story this week ["Seeding responsible tourism: WTTC is keen on green in
2007"], these issues will be much on the minds of
delegates to the Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Portugal this
week. Because these issues are getting attention at a high level,
we expect our news pages in the years ahead to chronicle a host of
new developments about the greening of travel.
It is widely
expected that tomorrow's consumers will increasingly direct their
spending toward companies that engage in sustainable, nonpolluting
practices and toward activities that are seen as environmentally
For travel, there
is a two-fold challenge here. Travel suppliers and destinations
will find that they have to meet a new standard to stay
competitive. But on another level, travel in general will have to
stay competitive with a host of new claims on the consumer's
consumers, vacation travel competes with a variety of other
discretionary expenditures, including home improvements, new cars
and entertainment systems. Soon it will be solar panels.
vacation travel has to get green, but it has to be more than that.
It has to have therapeutic value not just for the planet but for
the traveler and the traveler's psyche and soul.
There still has to
be some magic in it.
It would be a sad
day for the planet and its people if we choose to visit a place
only because it is carbon-neutral.