Celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week

The late 1800s were an important part of Door County’s storied past. It was then that the first cherry trees were planted in the county. Growers carefully tended to those initial orchards and as a result, the trees prospered and began bearing the delicious fruit that we have become so well known for here. The cherry industry has certainly helped shape what Door County is today.

Much like our famous cherry industry, Door County’s tourism industry can also trace its roots back to the late 1800s. Originally founded in 1891 as the Businessmen’s Association of Sturgeon Bay, the Door County Visitor Bureau (as it is known today) recognizes the important role that tourism has played in helping shape the day-to-day lives of county residents for more than a century. In a destination like ours, where tourism is big business, we take great pride in celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week, which runs May 3-11 this year.

The first full week of May is annually recognized as National Travel and Tourism Week, a tradition first celebrated in 1984. Localized events are presented in cities, states and travel businesses nationwide to champion the power of travel. It was established as National Tourism Week when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution in 1983 designating the week to be celebrated in May. In a White House ceremony, President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to observe the week with “the appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Given the importance that tourism plays in all of our lives in Door County, it should be no surprise that as the county’s destination marketing organization we take time to celebrate our industry during this special week. We are hosting a tourism breakfast event on national travel rally day, May 6, and are also distributing a special “Power of Tourism” piece throughout the county that helps share some key messages, facts and figures about our tourism industry. Look for a copy of it in next week’s Peninsula Pulse.

Much like our cherry industry did back in its heyday, the travel and tourism industry impacts everyone in Door County every day, from small business owners to innkeepers to restaurateurs to tradespeople and even shipyard workers. While the impact may be more direct for some than others, everyone benefits from what tourism brings to our economy and to the quality of life it affords us here. Direct benefits include jobs and increased tax revenue from tourism expenditures, along with the higher than average concentration of restaurants, attractions and recreational opportunities available to the 28,000 residents that call Door County home.

Perhaps less obvious, but no less important, are benefits that may otherwise not be available to those of us who live here year round if it weren’t for the influx of visitors we welcome each year. Things like two YMCA program centers (Sturgeon Bay & Northern Door), greatly enhanced medical facilities throughout the county, or the increased need for service sector businesses. The list goes on, but without tourism a number of benefits like these would simply not be sustainable by our year-round population alone.

Additionally, the recirculation of tourism dollars through our economy plays a big role in helping to sustain our local business community. Wages earned by employees in tourism-direct businesses get spent by locals at tourism-indirect businesses, be it a dentist office, a child care facility or auto-care shop. This recirculation of tourism dollars is critical in helping sustain the lives of our 28,000 year-round residents, not just from May through October, but throughout the year.

So take a few minutes this week to think about how you can support and encourage travel — perhaps as an employer, maybe as a leader in our community or even just for you and your family. It’s worth our investment, and the travel effect pays back in spades.

Jack Moneypenny is the president/CEO of the Door County Visitor Bureau (DCVB). The DCVB is the official tourism marketing organization for Door County, whose mission it is to foster long-term economic growth and stability in concordance with sustainable tourism practices.