This is a guest opinion from Peggy Coleman, Tompkins Chamber vice president of tourism and director of the Tompkins County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau about National Tourism Week, May 7-13. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit opinion pieces, please send them to Matt Butler at email@example.com.
People have been visiting our community for more than 100 years. Perhaps they were inspired by a waterfall they saw in one of the Wharton brothers’ silent films or came to see a family member play in a Cornell football game. What we know for certain is that this beautiful place continues to be incredibly attractive to visitors from across the globe.
In 2022, we welcomed visitors from all 50 states and 70 different countries. They come for enrichment, relaxation, fellowship, competition and escape, and they leave their hard earned dollars here in Tompkins County.
Now in its 40th year, National Travel and Tourism Week is an annual tradition to mark the United States travel industry’s role in stimulating economic growth, cultivating vibrant communities, creating quality job opportunities, stimulating business activity and elevating the quality of life for everyday Americans.
Travel serves as a catalyst for a productive U.S. economy and helps power the success of other industries. The U.S. travel industry generated a $2.6 trillion economic output in 2022 and supported 15 million jobs, fueling communities, small businesses and working families across the country.
Visitors to Tompkins County spent $225 million in local businesses in 2021, which is about 95% of what pre-pandemic spending was in 2019. This visitor spending supported $117 million in wages for 2,560 tourism employees in Tompkins County and generated $16.9 million in sales tax to support essential services for county residents.
Beyond supporting tourism worker payroll, travel spending extends throughout the community when our employees go to the dentist, buy shoes for their children, purchase groceries, or treat themselves to a dinner out. Additionally, Tompkins County residents would have to pay an additional $687 annually to replace the sales tax generated by tourism to enjoy the same level of services they do currently.
We at Visit Ithaca, a division of Tompkins Chamber, love this community and are proud to highlight all the great things to do in Tompkins County. It is the value of what tourism brings to our community that drives us in our work. It is what motivates us to welcome visitors with gratitude and kindness at our visitor centers at the Taughannock Falls Overlook and on the Downtown Ithaca Commons. It is why we encourage groups from across the globe to tour our region. It motivates us to invite conferences and events to enjoy the reflective nature of our destination, which reinvigorates their membership. It is why we can’t stop talking to media to share our unique stories about why people should come visit.
This National Travel and Tourism Week join me in celebrating all that tourism does for our community now, and all that it will contribute in the future. We all win when people travel to Tompkins County.