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U.S. Travel and Partners: Plan That Vacation!

Jan. 31 event encourages workers to use their PTO

By Kathy Gibbons

Americans have a vacation problem. Too many don’t take it. According to U.S. Travel Association research, American workers let an average of more than four days, or 29%, of their paid time off go unused in 2021. In fact, only a quarter of workers used all of the time they had earned.

Enter National Plan for Vacation Day, celebrated on the last Tuesday in January. Sponsored by U.S. Travel in association with a variety of state organizations across the country, National Plan for Vacation Day is a promotional event to encourage Americans to plan their time off for the whole year as a new one gets underway.

“On average, American workers earned 15.6 days of paid time off and used 11.0 days in 2021,” says Laura Holmberg, senior vice president of marketing and communications for the U.S. Travel Association. “NPVD is on the calendar in January to encourage Americans to be mindful about planning their earned vacation time at the start of the year, before calendars become too full.”

Besides raising awareness about vacation travel, the day aims to give the travel industry an organized moment to highlight the many and varied opportunities and experiences available for travelers, whether close to home or around the world. That also relates to business travel, Holmberg adds, whether tying in a family vacation or simply expanding a stay to enjoy some personal leisure time.

“Greater work flexibility is a norm now for many workers and has led to an increase in blended trips,” Holmberg explains. “It’s become a growth opportunity for the travel sector too and has changed some of the dynamics of work-related travel, such as booking patterns and length of stay. A worker with flexibility who travels for his or her job can use their time away to explore a new destination or try a new experience.”

Various states and vacation destinations are getting in on the NPVD act with their own promotions or events. For example, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is holding a “Warm Up to Win” pop-up event on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in New York City’s Herald Square. Local residents and visitors are being invited to warm up by enjoying an interactive St. Pete beach day inside a heated greenhouse and enter for a chance to win a trip to Florida with a stay at Tradewinds Island Resorts every year for the next five years.

The Parking Spot, the nation’s largest near-airport parking lot, is offering 20% off on bookings made on Jan. 30 or 31 using code PT02023.

Organizations like Arkansas Tourism, Visit Pensacola, VisitMesa, and Discover Philadelphia are using the occasion of NPVD to encourage people to plan trips.

In Michigan, the Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan (TICOM) and Pure Michigan have come together for a statewide promotion of the day and the message behind it.

“We want to educate and inform and inspire people and remind them to plan to take their time off,” says Chad W. Wiebesick, vice president of marketing and communications for Destination Ann Arbor and TICOM president. “Surveys have continually shown that vacation days are not being used and that negatively affects people’s mental health, personal relationships, and job performance.

“Taking time off makes people happy. Even if I’m not going on vacation tomorrow, the fact that I have on the calendar that I have a vacation three months from now just gets me excited. Closer to vacation, the happier I am. You don’t have to take a vacation that day; just getting it on the books makes people happy.”