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OWENS: Tourism brings gains for individuals, teams, communities

Tourism is sometimes seen as a monolith.

As someone who has been in hospitality and tourism my whole life, I can assure you it’s not. It’s made up of people, small business owners, entrepreneurs and a host of other characters.

This week in light of the National Travel & Tourism Week, we’ve been highlighting on our Facebook page at Tourism Leadership Council some of the many faces of tourism. We have so many in Savannah, around 27,000 in fact that there was no way to highlight them all.

Instead, we asked who wanted to share and let their words tell you what tourism means to them.

In the case of Delores Yeldell, front desk manager at Hampton Inn Savannah Historic District, she shared how hard work and education led to her career advancement.

“I began as a part-time night auditor with Savannah Lodging, and was offered the full-time night auditor position. I trained on the 3-11 p.m. shift, and started classes at Savannah Technical College. I completed my internship here, and I have moved from evening manager to my current position of front desk manager,” said Yeldell.

For Delvon Coffee, houseman at Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, he’s learning that tourism is where he found his passion.

“I realized that making other people happy was a passion I always had. Working in tourism has now encouraged me to attend school in the field to continue expanding my career,” said Coffee.

For Matthew Facenda, GM at Fairfield Inn & Suites Savannah Midtown, he realized his love of tourism after going to school for something else.

“After becoming a certified welder in college, I realized tourism was my passion. This is definitely what I enjoy and what I would love to do for the rest of my career,” said Facenda.

Just as much as tourism is made up of people, it’s also made up of small business owners — restaurants, retail, tour companies, soap makers and salt seller, among other specialties. Most of the tourism community in Savannah is comprised of small business owners

As we celebrate National Travel & Tourism week, we hope that you will join us in reveling that nationally, one out of nine U.S. jobs depend on travel and tourism. Locally, that’s one out of seven.

For tax revenue generated by travel spending nationally, there is $157.8 billion for federal, state, and local governments. In Chatham County, a household would need to be taxed an additional $1,936 per year to replace taxes generated by tourism economic activity.

According to the National Travel & Tourism website: “Direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.7 billion a day, $113.1 million an hour, $1.9 million a minute and $31,400 a second.”

Michael Owens is president/CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council, the largest nonprofit trade organization that supports and represents the tourism community. Contact Owens at michael@tourismleadershipcouncil.com or by calling 912-232-1223.

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