Submitted by Barbara Marrett
“The best education I have ever received was through travel.” – Lisa Ling, American journalist and TV host.
National Travel and Tourism Week, May 5–11, is the annual salute to the positive effects of travel in the United States. This year’s theme is “Travel Matters,” and with that, The San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau is taking this opportunity to examine what travel means to San Juan County, today and in the future.
Regardless of age, when asked what adults would put on a bucket list of things they wish to accomplish, 88 percent of Americans placed traveling to new places at the very top, and most children (61 percent) say the best way to spend quality time with parents is on vacation.
Here in San Juan County, approximately 2,300 jobs are directly related to the tourism industry. Think back to your first job. Maybe you worked at Rosario or Roche Harbor Resort, or maybe your kids work there now. For many — 1/3 of Americans to be exact — travel is the front door to a promising career.
With tourism occupying such a significant percentage of the San Juan Islands economy, this is a golden opportunity to add sustainability to the mix of what attracts visitors from around the globe. A recent report from Booking.com shows that 87 percent of travelers want to travel sustainably. There’s no time like the present to evaluate our current standards. It’s also the perfect time to reflect and comment on what our vision is for tourism, while our county comprehensive plan is being updated.
The San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau and the islands’ tourism industry recognize that the economic vitality of tourism is only sustainable if our natural beauty, rural character, and watchable wildlife are preserved. A recent tourism impact study by our local land managers supported the fact that visitors come here primarily to take part in low-impact outdoor activities.
The San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for San Juan County and Town of Friday Harbor. It represents over 300 island businesses representing local history, arts, outdoor recreation, agri-tourism and visitor education. Mostly funded by lodging tax paid by the visitor, it also receives business membership dues.
For more information about the visitor’s bureau, visit https://www.visitsanjuans.com/.