Next week is National Tourism Week. It's the travel industry's big chance to compete with National Library Week, Earth Week and National Engineers Week.

If you missed any of those weeks and don't feel particularly bad about it, then take a moment to consider that this is exactly how many people will react to National Tourism Week, unless we do something about it. In fact, that is what National Tourism Week is all about -- encouraging people in the industry to refresh the memories of everybody else that this is a $540 billion industry.

A few years ago the Travel Industry Association of America hit upon a slogan that may be better than anyone realized at the time: Tourism Works for America.

Last year, international visitors to the U.S. gave us 12 billion reasons to believe it, because that's how many dollars travel and tourism contributed to the nation's trade surplus. It's the country's largest service export.

So the next time you suppress a chuckle that National Poetry Month just passed you by, or that you missed National Safety Pin Safety Awareness Week or Poultry Feed Processing Week, remember our own week, and spread the word. It ain't chicken feed.

Alice Marriott

The death last week of Alice Marriott, co-founder of Marriott Corp., should serve as a reminder that our industry giants didn't start out as giants. The legend is true: Alice and her husband, the late J. Willard Marriott, got their start with a nine-seat root beer stand and a borrowed recipe for chili con carne. She died, at the age of 92, as the family business was commemorating the opening of its 2,000th hotel.

The travel and tourism industry has long been fertile ground for family businesses. We hope that trend, and its inevitable success stories, will continue.

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