National Travel + Tourism Week took place last week. We thank all of you who participated in the celebrations, the launch of the ?Share YOUR Washington? campaign and to all our partner communities for issuing proclamations for the occasion.

We face continuous challenge with an economy struggling to recover and the demise of the State Tourism Office looming less than two months from now'but there is also much to celebrate.

The Washington Tourism Alliance ( is gaining momentum and working diligently with the Department of Commerce to take custodianship of the tourism assets that have worked hard for our region. If you have not yet investigated this new organization, or not yet joined, please take a moment - on the membership page of the WTA website there is an application. There is an opportunity to get involved in shaping our industry's future at several levels.

The other things we celebrate can be summed up in Pierce County's Tourism Week Proclamation:

Whereas travel matters to the nation's economic prosperity and its image abroad, to business wealth and to individual travelers and to Pierce County, WA;

Whereas travelers to Pierce County, WA in 2010 spent $900.4 million, generated $71 million in state and local tax revenues creating 10,490 jobs with $227.5 million in earnings;

Whereas tourism is the fourth largest industry in the State of Washington;

Whereas travelers to the State of Washington in 2010 spent $15.2 billion, generated $1 billion in state and local tax revenues creating 143,800 jobs with $4.3 billion in earnings;

Whereas travel to and within the United States provides significant economic benefits for the nation, generating $1.8 trillion in economic output in 2010, with $759 billion spent directly by travelers that spurred an additional $1 trillion in other industries;

Whereas travel is among the largest private-sector employers in the United States, supporting 14.1 million jobs in 2010, including 7.4 million directly in the travel industry and 6.7 million in other industries;

Whereas travelers? spending directly generated tax revenues of $117 billion for federal, state and local governments, funds used to support essential services and programs;

Whereas international travel to the United States is the nation's largest single export industry ? greater than the export of business services, machinery, computer and electronic products, motor vehicles and agriculture. In 2010, travel accounted for 8 percent of total U.S. domestic exports, creating $134 billion in sales from abroad;

Whereas meetings, events and incentive travel are core business functions that help companies strengthen business performance - averaging a return on investment of $12.50 in profits and $3.80 in revenue for every dollar spent on corporate travel;

Whereas leisure travel, which accounts for more than three-quarters of all trips taken in the United States, spurs countless benefits to travelers? creativity, cultural awareness, education, happiness, productivity, relationships and wellness;

Whereas travel is a catalyst that moves the national economy forward.