Director’s Corner: Back to School, But Not Too Early to Plan Your Next Vacation Day

Sherry RupertAfter a busy summer acclimating myself to my new home in Albuquerque, I spent the last weekend sending my son off to his first day of college. Saying goodbye was bittersweet, both a moment to reflect on how proud I am of the young man he has become and, of course, nostalgic for the childhood he is leaving behind.

This Back to School season is also a reminder that summer is rapidly flying to an end.

That reminder, combined with an announcement on my desk from U.S. Travel that more than half of Americans did not use their vacation days last year, has left me wondering how many people I know did not enjoy any vacation time over the summer months.

According to the report, Americans left behind 768 million vacation days last year–a number that is climbing. In fact, they completely forfeited 236 million vacation days, which means that every single American donated, on average, $571 in work time back to their company.

Why are so many people reluctant to take vacation days? We’re all busy, but certainly, a long weekend here and there shouldn’t be impossible to manage. The U.S. Travel Study found that if Americans used their days off to travel, it would result in $151.5 billion in additional travel spending and nearly 2 million American jobs.

If just one percent of that travel came to Indian Country, it could mean $1.5 billion in spending and 20,000 new jobs across the country.

We’ll be talking quite a bit about the economic impact of Indian Country tourism at our upcoming American Indian Tourism Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sept. 16-19, and we invite you to join in the conversation. We’re thrilled to welcome Roger Dow, the President & CEO of U.S. Travel, who will break down the importance of tourism to the U.S. economy. We’re equally excited to welcome Keith Henry, the President & CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, who will talk about how the promotion of Indigenous Tourism in Canada is bringing about a shift in how Canadians and international visitors to Canada visit the country. You can view our complete AITC agenda here.

Now that you’re aware of the importance of taking time off to travel, please remember to visit to take a look at some of the Indian Country tourism opportunities waiting for you.

Can’t wait to see you at the American Indian Tourism Conference next month!

Sherry L. Rupert, Executive Director
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association