Next week is National Travel and Tourism Week, and it couldn't come at a better time.

A principal purpose of this annual commemoration is to give travel professionals an opportunity to get in front of their local communities, civic leaders and elected officials and remind them that travel is an economic activity with a capital E.

Travel in all its forms -- including tourism, business travel, meetings, conventions and travel for entertainment and sporting events -- brings visitors, which means commerce, jobs and tax revenue.

The U.S. Travel Association summed it up nicely in this year's slogan: Travel Matters.

Within the travel industry, of course, we all know that. Outside the travel industry, people need to be reminded -- particularly in a recession and amid a heightened awareness that travel can sometimes magnify the risks of modern life to the point that they become unbearable.

On May 12, they will get a reminder in the form of local rallies organized by convention and visitors bureaus and other travel organizations in 30 or so cities, ranging from Seattle to Miami and points between, such as Green Bay, Wis.

Organizers in these locations are urging travel companies and their employees to show up and speak up. We second the motion, because it works.

U.S. Travel's template for Travel Rally Day is based on the experience of Spokane, Wash., where the convention and visitors bureau organized a rally to support U.S. Travel's "Meetings Mean Business" campaign, aimed at counteracting the backlash against business meetings.

The Spokane Regional CVB had hard data that the region hosted 162 conventions, meetings and events last year that generated an economic impact of $200 million, and it felt it needed to protect that business.

At an out-of pocket cost of $781, the CVB collared the mayor and a few other important people and organized a brief event in March to make the case that "meetings mean business." It was over in a half-hour, and it only drew 200 attendees, but they included local media.

The CVB figures that it generated the equivalent of $86,507 worth of media exposure with 675,000 impressions. In public relations terms, that's a pretty good return on $781. Multiply all of that by 30 cities and the result is this: Travel matters.

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