Not everyone may realize it, but travel is big business. The travel industry is a top 10 employer in 49 states and spending by travelers in the U.S. Totals $990 billion annually and supports 15.3 million American jobs. It is also worth noting that by their very nature, most of these are jobs cannot be outsourced.  


Ridgecrest gets its share of travelers as well. The Maturango Museum, for example, had 23,229 visitors in 2016. Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau representative Debbie Corlett estimated there were at least 20,000 visitors to the area in 2016.


The importance of the travel industry to the economy will be recognized next week when travel industry workers celebrate the 34th annual National Travel and Tourism Week, May 7-13. It is traditionally held during the first week in May. Travel Week was established by congressional resolution in 1983 and is observed by the travel community in ways ranging from staging rallies and conducting media outreach to getting resolutions from local governments.


Travel is an important boon to the U.S. Economy. Direct travel spending totaled $990.3 billion in 2016 in the U.S., by domestic and international travelers. In addition, international travel spending directly supported around 1.2 million jobs in the U.S., and $32.4 billion in wages.


In other fun facts, direct spending by resident and international travelers averages $2.7 billion a day, $113.1 million an hour, $1.9 million a minute and $31,400 a second in the U.S., according to the U.S. Travel Association.


This year's theme is “Faces of Travel” and highlights the people working in the industry, which supports the livelihood of more than 15 million Americans.


Some of Ridgecrest’s local faces of travel work at the RACVB. Established in 1992 as a nonprofit organization to assist tourists in their desert trips, the organization now plays a multi-faceted role in promoting tourism in this area, as well as assisting with filming and the Petroglyph Festival.


Travel Rally Day has been an annual part of National Travel and Tourism Week. Travel Rally Day is meant not only to focus on travel, but to highlight what travel means to local communities. As such, this year's Travel Day Rally on May 10 will be held at Petroglyph Park on East Las Flores Avenue. Docents from the Maturango Museum and artist Olaf Doud will be on hand to share information about the rich historic and artistic heritage of the petroglyphs. People are asked to meet at Petroglyph Park at 10 a.m.


The event is being held as part of Corlett's quarterly “Explore Your Backyard” series. Corlett said she started the series last year. The idea is familiarizing local travel industry workers with the local attractions, the better to enable them to advise guests. “I thought there was a need that the people who see our guests first at the hotels are familiar with our area attractions.” Corlett explained. She added that there are an estimated 1,000 tourism jobs in town.