Today kicks off National Travel and Tourism Week, and, in the face of a global pandemic, it takes on a much different tone. While we can't welcome our guests in person, we can still celebrate the Spirit of Travel and all the positive things the tourism industry provides to our community.

Communities benefit from the spirit of travel, which permeates through small businesses, unique landmarks and all those who welcome residents and visitors alike with a smile and hospitality. When the time is right, the travel and tourism industry will be integral to our nation’s recovery — for the economy and American jobs. But it is the spirit of travel that will heal our country’s morale. 

When you say "tourism," many people think of visitors eating in restaurants or staying in hotels, riding a motorcoach and snapping photographs of things like Denali, Matanuska Glacier or other landmarks. But tourism also plays a significant role in our day-to-day lives and our quality of life, particularly here in Alaska, and the Mat-Su Valley. Tourism dollars help fund many of the things residents enjoy on a daily basis. Trail improvements, facilities like the Government Peak Chalet and outdoor recreation projects have all been paid by visitor spending. Those are things that enhance our daily lives, and it's all made possible because of the Spirit of Travel.

The tourism industry is resilient, and we will get through this. Now may not be the right time for a visit, but it's certainly the right time to continue dreaming big, and it's the right time to plan your next vacation. Alaska will wait, and know that when the time is right, we will be here, ready to welcome visitors to our great state.

We are #TourismStrong.