Taking place May 2-8, National Travel & Tourism Week is an annual celebration of the U.S. travel industry’s contributions and a reminder to us all of the incredible value the travel industry holds for our local economy and community’s identity.
The power of travel is such an important part of our area’s culture. One need only observe how visitors and residents delight in enjoying Crowders Mountain State Park, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden or The Schiele Museum. Before the pandemic, visitors to Gaston County injected $291 million annually into our economy in 2019. Nationally, travel generated $2.6 trillion in economic output and delivered a $51 billion trade surplus to the U.S. in 2019.
However, this vital revenue source stemming from group and individual travelers was severely diminished amid the pandemic, negatively affecting our hotels, attractions, event venues, restaurants and retailers.
In 2020, travel-supported jobs accounted for a staggering 65% of all U.S. jobs lost amid the pandemic. Gaston County’s hotel room demand fell 11% and hotel room revenue dropped 23% as industry-related businesses were forced curtail operations. With such disparate losses, it is clear that a broader economic recovery hinges on a recovery within the travel industry.
The rapid pace of vaccinations has provided hope that a return to normal is on the horizon. With the right health and safety measures in place, we can bolster travel, restore our workforce and power the broader economy.
If we act now to get Americans moving, then our industry can get back to doing what we do best more quickly—providing quality job opportunities for residents of all backgrounds, reconnecting in person, and showing the world why Gaston County is a great place to visit.
About Gaston County Travel & Tourism: Gaston County Travel & Tourism optimizes our county’s brand experiences to drive visitation and partner economic growth. In 2019, visitors spent $291 million in Gaston County, supporting 2,000 jobs and generating $21 million in state and local tax collections.