The Summer Travel Paradox

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    Mellody Hobson talks about the summer travel paradox in today’s “Money Mondays” segment.

    Last month, we talked about how to protect yourself from all-too-common summer credit card scams and how to be a smart traveler when it comes to your money—like talking to your bank before you travel and monitoring account activity online. But today I want to talk about The Summer Travel Paradox.

    What is it?

    It’s that summer travel is great for our economy, but it’s a nightmare for the people actually traveling. The leisure industry is a leading American industry that’s about a lot more than fun. You would be BLOWN AWAY by some of the statistics about the travel industry.

    To start, direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $597 billion in 2012, and spending on that leisure travel generated $89 billion in tax revenue.  And that doesn’t even include business travel! According to the U.S. Travel Association, each U.S. household would pay over $1,000 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by travel and tourism.

    Turns out a day at the beach or even a trip to grandma’s is big business. Travel is a top 10 industry in 48 out of 50 states. But here’s the kicker: Direct travel expenditures support 7.7 million jobs in the travel industry, and American workers directly employed by travel share total wages that exceed $200 billion.

    Travel and tourism account for 2.8% of the nation’s GDP, and it’s no question that a thriving travel industry is a boon for our economy, but it comes at a price.

    It’s hard to decide if it’s good or bad news when the U.S. Travel Association says leisure travel will hit a record high this year, because what’s good for the economy isn’t necessarily good for our sanity.

    According to Orbitz, over 75 percent of Americans are taking a summer vacation. What does that mean for us? Let’s start with the plane for your summer getaway: Flights are extremely full, topping 85% in June. Forget about enjoying some extra space with an empty middle seat, because you might find yourself sitting in it.

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