We pass popular tourist sites like George Washington’s Mount Vernon every day, but we may not even think about how it supports our community. But Mount Vernon and others like Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center, Great Falls Park, Tysons Corner Center, Wolf Trap, and the Workhouse Arts Center are the backbone of Fairfax County. These places define our community, provide our families with jobs and have given us—and Fairfax County’s millions of annual visitors—a lifetime of memories.

Travel matters, and it improves Fairfax County in ways that have a wide-reaching impact on our 1.2 million residents. Travel supports more than 30,000 local jobs in Fairfax County, and it also has an impact that we do not always see: travel can strengthen families, foster hometown pride, and build emotional bridges that connect us with one another.

At the national level, travel is critical to the U.S. economy and American jobs. Travel creates and supports 15.7 million jobs across the U.S., making it the seventh-largest private sector employer. In 2018, traveler spending generated $171 billion in total tax revenue, including $78.6 billion in state and local revenue. That $78.6 billion can pay for a host of critical resources: it’s more than enough to pay all state and local police and firefighters, or the more than one million public high school teachers.

Travel is powerful for cities and states, and Fairfax County is no exception. Just in this county alone, tourism is a $3.16 billion industry, generating more than $217 million in state and local tax revenues. Those 30,000+ jobs supported by tourism in Fairfax County also produce earnings of almost $700 million.

Think back to your first job. Maybe you worked at Lake Fairfax Park or Gunston Hall, or at one of our fabulous restaurants. Maybe your kids work there now. For many–one third of Americans to be exact–travel is the front door to a promising career. Americans whose first job was in travel have an average career salary of $81,900, and two in five of those whose first job was in travel are now earning more than $100,000. Think about how travel matters to places like Clifton’s beloved Main Street Pub: travel-dependent leisure and hospitality is the largest small business employer in the U.S.

Those are only a few reasons why it’s so important to keep welcoming visitors to Fairfax County—and why our industry is elevating the message of “Travel Matters” during this week’s National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW). We encourage you to join us in observing NTTW this year and celebrate all that travel does for Fairfax County, and for our country as a whole.

What are some of the ways that travel matters most to you?

Tell us in the comments below and be sure to join the conversation on social media using #NTTW19, #FXVA, and @VisitFairfax.

Also, don’t miss out on celebrating another iconic representation of tourism: snap your photo with the traveling Fairfax County “LOVEwork” sign, which helps celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Virginia is for Lovers” tourism slogan. The sign will travel around Fairfax County this summer. See it now at Tysons Corner Center before it heads off to its next stop. Tour schedule available here.

*data points from U.S. Travel Association