Going to the beach. Relaxing. Meeting new business partners. Discovering history. Supporting small businesses and jobs. These are just a few examples of what travel means to people and to communities like Seaside, Oregon.

This year, to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) 2015, May 2-10, the travel industry is underscoring how travel affects us all with the theme: “Travel is...”

Travel is enriching. Travel is exploring places you’ve never been before. Travel is spending time with family and friends while sometimes making new ones. There are many ways to complete that sentence, but no matter how you draw it up, travel is extremely vital to our community. Whether you travel yourself or have a job in the travel industry, you know that travel and tourism can be impactful to people all over our county, state and country.

I’ve written something similar in the past, but without travel in Seaside, I don’t have this job and my family probably never moves to the great state of Oregon. It’s as simple as that. Without the travel and meeting industry, there would be other employment to be found by approximately 5,000 people that are supported by travel and tourism jobs in Clatsop County. Those jobs had direct earnings of $134.9 million in 2013, while overnight stays contributed more than $8 million in local transient tax receipts for Clatsop County during the same time period. Take that a step further and you’ll learn that Oregon’s tourism industry generates $10.3 billion in economic impact and directly employs more than 100,000 Oregonians.

Pretty easy to take that last paragraph and sum up travel in one word. Travel is impactful. One out of nine jobs in the United States is dependent on travel and tourism. That number shrinks to about one in four jobs in Clatsop County. In hindsight, impactful may be selling the definition of travel a bit short.

The theme —“Travel is...”— not only amplifies the call of an entire industry, but it customizes the unique impact of the U.S. travel industry on the fabric of America. Destinations, including ours here in Seaside, are defining travel as it specifically contributes to our local economies, businesses and lives.

Did travel bring you to Seaside or have you had a job in Seaside that allows you to say what travel is to you and your current relationship with this popular spot on Oregon’s North Coast? If you have a “Travel is...” story, I’d love to hear it. I don’t get much email related to this monthly column, but I’d love to share a few other meaningful definitions of travel, so please let me know if you have one.

Have other thoughts or a question about tourism in Seaside, or maybe an idea for a future column? Drop me an email at jon@seasideor.com. Jon Rahl is the director of tourism for the Seaside Visitors Bureau and assistant general manager of the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.

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