The U.S. economy continues to show signs of improvement, so how can telling Americans to travel more help stimulate the domestic economy? Since consumer spending makes up as much as 70% of the US economy, getting the public to spend more is important but I prefer a more direct message. What if the government ran an advertising campaign designed to convince workers to use more of their vacation time traveling in the USA? Can spending tax dollars to promote local travel both help grow the economy and also serve to improve work-life balance?
It is obvious that domestic travel generates significantly more tax revenue as compared with U.S. residents spending their money abroad, so there is little reason for the US government to promote foreign travel. Countries around the world are already doing a terrific job talking up the benefits of traveling to far away destinations which I am certainly not discouraging here. However it does make sound financial sense for the federal and state government to spend money advertising a “Travel More” message to people living in the United States.
Here are the benefits that result from Americans traveling more in the USA:
As it stands today, each official tourism bureau is responsible for promoting travel to its destination whether state, city, town, historic region, tourist attraction, or park. What I am suggesting is a media-blitz effort on the part of state and federal government to advertise USA travel (beyond the DiscoverAmerica website) and back it up with tax-friendly public policy initiatives. It will serve a patriotic purpose similar to a “buy local” message that creates jobs in every community. The positive side effect is a greater awareness of the importance of work-life balance and the value of taking advantage of your well-earned vacation days. Plus it is the green way to spend money on you and your family through cultural exploration and natural adventure, something much more valuable than the latest product fad that tends to promise more than it can deliver.
Who knows… once we are all told to take vacations more often whether a evening excursion, weekend trip, or 10-day getaway, there will be a greater demand for more generous paid time off (PTO) policies at work and maybe even guaranteed time off legislation. The countries of the Europe Union have already embraced the benefits of domestic travel for the health of their economy and the well being of its citizens. The U.S. can easily promote the “Travel in the USA” message by reminding us all to use our time off from work to support the economy and enjoy life to the fullest. This small effort will quickly pay huge dividends all around.
What do you think? Should the U.S. government spend tax dollars to promote travel within the 50 states (and territories) in order to increase household spending on travel services? Will this policy offer the ultimate combination of sustainable tax revenue and growing consumer confidence necessary to strengthen the economy in 2011 and beyond and at the same time raise our happiness ranking in the world? I vote Yes!
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