The first full week of May is annually dedicated to bringing awareness of the importance of travel and tourism to the nation’s economy.
“Travel means business to the U.S. and our local economies,” said Mary Turner, Executive Director of Texas Forest Trail Region. “It also means lasting family memories, fun and relaxation. It’s an important aspect of our lives any way you look at it.”
Localized events are presented in cities, states and travel businesses nationwide to champion the power of travel. In 1983, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution designating the special week and in a White House ceremony, President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to observe the week with ceremonies and activities.
“Tourism is the number one service we export and that’s because we have a great product to sell,” said President Barack Obama in addressing the International Pow Wow April 25 in Los Angeles. He added that every year visitors add billions of dollars to the economy and help support jobs all across the country.
Texas Forest Trail Region will be sponsoring various activities daily May 7-11 on their Facebook page (www. facebook.com/texasforesttrail ) , including a mini photo contest of vacation memories; postings from participants who share travel tips and fun facts or images about travel and tourism; and a challenge to readers to stump the staff with questions about the 35-county area covered by the Texas Forest Trail Region.
Prize selections include memberships to Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin or Shangri-La Botanical Gardens in Orange; tickets to Neches River Adventures Cardinal Boat rides in Beaumont or Piney Woods Wine Trail Festival in Mt. Vernon; lecture admission and bus tour of home creations with Phoenix Commotion founder Dan Phillips and a dinner for two at the The Homestead restaurant in Huntsville; and cookies from Pinto Pony Cookie Factory in San Augustine. All prizes come from organizations located and originating in Texas Forest Trail Region.
TFTR staff members and directors will also attend the Texas Travel Rally Day May 8 and join others, many dressed in red, at the Texas Travel Information Center in Waskom. Turner invites visitors to drop by the Texas Forest Trail Region booth to pick up free cookies and fun literature about the East Texas area including “We Pine for East Texas” bumper stickers. Staff members will take pictures of visitors next to the “Welcome to Texas” sign and post photos on Facebook. Also planned are entertainment, contests and demonstrations. Activities are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Newly appointed Texas Department of Transportation officials will attend in addition to local dignitaries and other special guests.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has also proclaimed Travel and Tourism Week in Texas. “Annually, the state celebrates Texas Travel and Tourism Week, not only to point out the significant economic impact of the travel industry, but ...to acknowledge the more than half a million valued travel industry employees - including hotel staff, restaurant employees, attraction and museum personnel, state park guides, and visitor's center staff - who contribute to the success of the industry," he said.
Travel and tourism generated $1.9 trillion in economic output for the U.S. economy in 2011. The industry also represents one of America’s largest employers, supporting 14.4 million jobs (including 7.5 million directly in the travel industry and 6.9 million in other industries). Direct spending by domestic and international travelers averaged $2.2 billion a day, $92.8 million an hour, $1.5 million a minute and $25,700 a second.
Texas Forest Trail Region is a regional tourism initiative developed by the Texas Historical Commission that helps Texans connect with their roots and visitors experience the Texas story. The Texas Forest Trail Region encompasses 35 counties of East Texas including Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Franklin, Gregg, Hardin, Harrison, Henderson, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Marion, Montgomery, Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Panola, Polk, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Walker and Wood.