The Power of Travel: Visit Lake County Can Help Drive America's Economic Rebound

By: Jonathan Jones 05/03/2021

Travel’s ability to bounce back after periods of economic hardship—and inject much-needed revenue directly into Lake County’s economy—is why the theme of this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) is the Power of Travel.


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NTTW (May 2-8), the 38th annual celebration of the U.S. travel industry’s contributions, is an opportunity to remind visitors and residents of the incredible value the travel industry holds not just for our local economy and workforce, but to our community’s identity and culture—and to remind policymakers of travel’s ability to help power recovery efforts.

Travel and tourism is such an important part of who we are as a community. One need only recall how visitors to our destination delighted in visits to Six Flags Great America and Great Wolf Lodge Illinois in Gurnee, Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, Lincolnshire Marriott Resort and Marriott Theatre, our Lake Michigan coast, Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Chain O'Lakes State Park in Antioch, Lake County Forest Preserves, our dining scene, Main Street vibes, Ravinia Festival in Highland Park and countless other beloved attractions.


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However, this vital revenue source stemming from business and leisure travelers was severely diminished amid the pandemic. In 2020, the entire U.S. travel industry lost half a trillion dollars in travel-related spending—10 times the economic impact of 9/11. Nationally, total travel-supported jobs accounted for a staggering 65% of all U.S. jobs lost amid the pandemic.

With such disparate losses, it is clear that a broader economic recovery hinges on recovery within the travel industry.


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While the rapid pace of vaccinations has provided hope that a return to normal is on the horizon, a resurgence in travel demand is not inevitable. Without aggressive federal action to reopen the travel economy and spur demand, the travel industry’s recovery is expected to take as long as five years—far too long to wait for the workers whose livelihoods depend on this vital industry.

But with the right measures in place, we can get people moving again in a safe and healthy way, restore our workforce and help power a broader economic recovery. The travel industry needs sustained relief to ensure businesses can maintain operation and workers can stay on payrolls until sustained demand can truly take hold.


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Importantly, policymakers must also identify the path to reopening our borders and safely restarting international inbound travel, as well as restarting professional meetings and events; these are crucial segments of our local economy, without which we cannot fully recover.

The road ahead is challenging, but the travel industry is resilient and has an incredible ability to bounce back from hard times. We recovered after 9/11, after the 2008 financial meltdown, and after health scares such as Zika, Ebola and SARS. This is the toughest challenge the U.S. travel industry has ever faced, but we know travel is one of the best-equipped industries to lead a revival.


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If lawmakers act now to jumpstart recovery efforts and get Americans moving, then all of us in Lake County can get back to doing what we do best more quickly—providing quality job opportunities for Americans of all background, reconnecting family and friends, and showing the world what makes the U.S. the best place to visit.

For more information about the Power of Travel, continue here. To celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week in the land of lakes, click here. 

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