When it’s time to say, “Let’s go there,” the travel industry will be ready

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by ROGER DOW

It’s the feeling so many of us have missed these past months – the excitement of planning a trip, the thrill of waiting for a new adventure to begin, the anticipation of connecting with others, of new experiences, and creating memories.

This is the unifying theme more than 75 businesses and organizations (including AAHOA) – from large companies to destinations of all sizes and including brands from outside the travel sector – formed the Let’s Go There Coalition. Together, we developed a plan to inspire Americans to begin thinking about and taking steps to plan a future getaway, trip, or vacation.

The idea is straightforward: the simple act of making travel plans can boost Americans’ happiness and energy levels and increase their sense of well-being, and will eventually put the country’s travel industry on the path to recovery.

If you’ve ever felt that planning a trip is the point when the fun begins, you’re not alone. There is a wealth of research that says the simple act of anticipating a trip can have a positive impact on mental and physical health.

Roger Dow networking during the U.S. Travel Association’s ESTO 2019. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Travel Association)

ARE WE THERE YET?
According to polling conducted by happiness researcher Michelle Gielan, 97 percent of respondents said having a trip planned makes them happier, while 82 percent reported it makes them “moderately” or “significantly” happier. Further, 71 percent reported feeling greater levels of energy when they had a trip planned in the next six months. These findings come at a time when studies have shown Americans are experiencing the lowest levels of happiness in 50 years.

This research complements previous U.S. Travel reports that found travel is a powerful antidote to burnout, and can help increase happiness levels, improve job satisfaction, and strengthen personal relationships.

FIRST STEPS
In addition to boosting happiness, making plans is one of the first steps to restoring travel industry jobs and putting Americans back to work. Travel supported employment for one in 10 American workers pre-pandemic, but more than half of those jobs disappeared between the onset of the pandemic and May 1. The broader travel industry has made a commitment to adhere to the highest health and safety standards and will be prepared to welcome back visitors once demand returns.

On a personal note, so many of my friends and colleagues have shared with me how much they’ve missed traveling these past few months. Travel brings us together, it opens our eyes to new cultures and experiences, and allows us – even just for a few days – to forget the stressors of the world. This year has been extraordinarily challenging, and we could all benefit from having plans to look forward to.

TAKE THE LEAP
So, go ahead. Give yourself permission to dream of better times, to plan for brighter days, and to feel that buzz of excitement when you book a trip. When you’re ready to say, “Let’s go there” and plan a trip, the U.S. travel industry will be ready to safely welcome you back.

And I can’t wait to see you out there.

For more information, visit LetsGoThere.travel and see the #LetsMakePlans hashtag. For more information about the Let’s Go There Coalition and how you can join the movement, visit ustravel.org/LetsGoThereCoalition or contact info@letsgothere.travel.

Roger Dow is president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

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