Travel inherently has the power to connect us all, to help us learn about other cultures and people, to help bring us closer to passions we never knew we had, and to help us enjoy the truly hospitable places, foods, amenities, and offerings of a destination.
This year, as the world collectively saw travel come to a standstill and thousands upon thousands of workers in the hospitality industry saw their jobs disappear or their livelihoods threatened, it became even more abundantly clear how important travel and tourism are to the world’s overall economy.
In Fairfax County alone, tourism is a $3.42 billion industry, supporting more than 31,000 jobs and delivering more than $233 million in state and local tax revenues as of 2019. Here in Fairfax County, there are more than 100 hotels, thousands of restaurants, and hundreds of attractions, as well as countless other visitor services that make up this resilient hospitality industry.
We asked leaders of Fairfax County’s hospitality industry for their thoughts on travel, from what it means to them to favorite trips or quotes they hold dear, to what inspires them about the industry they are so deeply passionate about.
This year, we celebrate the Power of Travel through these hardworking people and the faces of an industry whose resilience and fortitude will help see us through to our next plane trip, outdoor excursion, beach oasis, or Great American Roadtrip.
Read on and don’t forget to share your favorite travel inspirations, quotes, memories, or stories with us in the comments or on social media using #FXVA, #PowerOfTravel, and #NTTW21.
Inspired by Travel & Hospitality
“Workers in the travel industry have always inspired me, but never more so than this past year when they continued to serve with a smile in the most difficult of situations.” – Jackie Franchi, Vice President of Marketing & Sales for Visit Fairfax
“Hospitality is my passion; I celebrate the humble service of hotel professionals and the fierce resilience we demonstrate. To me, hoteliers are the people who love to entertain and naturally pay attention to others' needs. We create space for others to shine and then enjoy as they and others bask in the glow. It doesn’t matter if people are traveling near or far, they need to connect and that’s exactly what we are here for.” – Jill Flynn, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Hyatt Regency Dulles
“The Tourism Industry inspires me because I love meeting new people and helping them create memorable experiences.” – Kim Roberts, Regional Director of Sales for the Hampton Inn & Suites Herndon/Reston
“The tourism industry inspires me because to me tourism is synonymous with hospitality and hospitality by definition is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” – Gary M. Cohen, Executive Vice President for Glory Days Grill
“The Tourism Industry inspires me because it allows me to spend time sharing the extensive beauty in all facets of life in the Fairfax County area with many guests that come to our amazing area. It also allows me to meet such a diverse group of people who each contribute a special touch to the hospitality and travel experience.” – Trish Drews, General Manager for the DoubleTree by Hilton McLean Tysons
“The Tourism Industry inspires me through the people and the experiences shared amongst each other. Through travel and the industry behind it, you have a greater respect of others through cultural understanding, your senses are heightened through your firsthand experiences, and you tend to get taken out of your comfort zone and try new things.” – Morgan Maravich, Director, Supplier Strategy for GBTA
“The tourism industry inspires me because of the people in it. The passion and love they have for helping others find peace and joy through travel and hospitality is just truly unmatched. I feel lucky every day to be a part of this industry.” – Ali Morris, Destination Marketing Manager for Visit Fairfax
Favorite Quotes & Sentiments
"'We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.’” – Lisa Farrell, Area Director of Sales for the Sonesta ES Suites Northern Virginia
“'We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.’ - Hilaire Belloc” – Patricia DeLeon, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Westin Tysons Corner
“I've always been fond of a line from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay that goes: ‘My heart is warm with the friends I make, and better friends I'll not be knowing; Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going.’” – Dean Miller, National Sales Manager for Visit Fairfax
“'I haven't been everywhere, but it’s on my list’ - Susan Sontag” – Linda Horowitz, National and International Sales Manager, Tour & Travel for Visit Fairfax
“Unlike anything else, travel gives us joy, culture and connection.” – Amy Mierzwinski, Account Director for WHITE64
“'No matter the journey, travel broadens the mind, stimulates the senses, and enlivens the soul.’” – Eric Kulczycky, National Sales Manager for Visit Fairfax
Why Travel Matters
“The Travel Industry is important to Fairfax County because it shares the history of the nation's founding with the world.” – Matt Briney, Vice President, Media & Communications for George Washington’s Mount Vernon
“Tourism and Hospitality workers connect America by providing a home away from home no matter how far you get from where you live.” – Sarah White, Area Manager for Lost Dog Café
“The Travel Industry is important to Fairfax because travel promotion leads to increased economic activity, well-paying jobs and crucial tax revenue supporting essential public services, and so much more.” – Carmen Fierro, General Manager for the Quality Inn Mt. Vernon
“Tourism and Hospitality workers connect America by making our guests feel a sense of home away from home by welcoming them with smiles and greeting them with genuine kindness. Taking care of our guests is the greatest reward when they leave happy, refreshed and ready to take on their next adventure!” – Sharon Meyers, Director of Catering Sales for the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles
“The Travel Industry is important to Fairfax County because our community has so much history and natural beauty and culture to give to those who come to visit and work here. Both in hospitality and travel we can give our guests the sense of ‘home away from home’ as the witness and share our immense sights and sounds.” – Trish Drews, General Manager for the DoubleTree by Hilton McLean Tysons
“The Travel Industry is critical to contributing not only to the economic wellbeing of a community but even more importantly, to the social fabric of the community.” – Barry H. Biggar, President & CEO of Visit Fairfax
“The Travel Industry is important to Fairfax County because it brings people together to explore the wonderful sites that we have to offer in our beautiful county from parks with walking trails, wineries, breweries, botanical gardens, historic battlegrounds, museums, and much more. Our close proximity to Washington DC is also a plus. There are a variety of hotel accommodations, entertainment venues and great culinary experiences for our visitors to choose from to create a memorable experience!” – Sharon Meyers, Director of Catering Sales for the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles
Favorite Trips & Memories
“My most memorable travel experience was traveling in a train for hours up the Pyrenees mountains with my best friend to arrive at a cute hotel amidst the cobblestones of Lourdes, France, and experience the days of pilgrimage commemorating and sharing the miracles of some 50 years before. Everything about that travel experience changed me for the better!” – Trish Drews, General Manager for the DoubleTree by Hilton McLean Tysons
“My most memorable travel experience was seeing the Grand Canyon of the Pacific-Waimea Canyon on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.” – Bert Cook, Office Manager for Visit Fairfax
“I have found that in my travels to new places it is the warmth and hospitality of the local people that I often remember more than anything else. Nothing is more memorable than when you meet a person that is PROUD of where they come from!” – Gary M. Cohen, Executive Vice President for Glory Days Grill
“I had the most fun on vacation taking my son to the beach for the first time.” – Patrick Lennon, Director of Marketing for Visit Fairfax
“Memorable travel stories are among my family’s most treasured, shared experiences in life. My (now grown) children have often relayed how invaluable it was to experience new places while learning new things!” – Chris Colvin, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Fairfax Marriott
“I have the most fun on vacation when I discover something, a restaurant, arts venue, store, that is off the beaten path. I love to talk to the locals and get a real feel for the community.” – Dana Stewart, Director of Communications & Advocacy for ARTSFAIRFAX
“I have the most fun on vacation when I have the privilege of learning about other cultures and people who are different from myself.” – Marissa Strang, Destination Marketing Specialist for Visit Fairfax
"My most memorable travel experience was the first time I traveled abroad. It unlocked a whole new world of opportunities for me, and I'll forever cherish the experience." – Todd Putt, Senior Manager, Marketing for Tysons Corner Center
“Covid put me on an unwanted travel diet. I can hardly wait for the feast!” – Sue Porter, Director of Visitor Services for Visit Fairfax