“Back here, it is dark and lonely.  I reside behind clothes that don’t fit and empty boxes saved for holiday wrapping.  Worn out tennis shoes are tangled in my handle.  It’s been at least six months since I’ve seen the world beyond this closet, and that was cleaning day.  They pulled me out from under crates full of who knows what, rearranged, then stored me here.  I can’t remember the last time they unzipped me and stuffed me full of gear for a trip.  Am I forgotten for good?”

This suitcase is not alone.  Its plight is that of thousands belonging to people opting out of fun and adventure.  The lonely luggage dilemma is evidence of a human travesty.  Vacation left unused, roads untraveled, discoveries unmade.  It is a sad situation for suitcases; sadder still for the people who own them.  Do these folks know not where to go or what to do when they get there?

Photo Apr 26, 11 02 30 AMThe Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is tackling the lonely luggage dilemma head on.  We are drawing visitors to our city, and we are equipping them for authentic #dentoning experiences customized to their unique passions and interests.  This weekend is a case in point.

The Discover Denton Welcome Center on the square opened for the first time this weekend especially to cater to the thousands in town for the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival.  Hundreds are stopping in for advice about fleshing out their visit around the festival. Thanks to our finest Denton ambassadors – you – Dentoning suggestions are piling high in the #dentonbucketlist.  As locals drop in to check out the new Discover Denton, they’re filling the bucket with their own #dentoning recommendations.  Then visitors, with the help of our Dentoning Experts, are crafting experiences and making memories they would otherwise miss completely.

Today is the kickoff of National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW).  A tradition, which began when Congress passed a joint resolution in 1983, the first full week of May is set apart from the rest of the year to recognize travel’s importance to the American economy and quality of life.  Cities across the nation identify, design and participate in activities to champion the power of travel.

This year’s NTTW theme is “Your luggage misses you.  Take it somewhere.”  We at the CVB are taking this literally.   When luggage arrives in Denton, we are showing its people the best we’ve got so they’ll keep those bags at the ready from now on.  Why?  We need luggage landing in Denton as much as luggage longs to visit.

Travel is big business. Estimates from the Office of the Governor Tourism Division show that direct travel spending in Texas was $70.6 billion in 2014, directly supporting 630,000 jobs plus an additional 474,000 jobs indirectly supported across many industry sectors including leisure and hospitality, transportation, retail trade, services, finance, real estate, construction, insurance, and others.

Photo Apr 26, 1 30 44 PMWhat does travel mean to Denton? Try an 8.3 percent increase in local tax receipts from 2013 to 2014, for a total of $5.2 million.  And an 8 percent increase in tourism jobs, up to 1,620 with a total payroll of $53 million.  This is our Denton economy we’re talking about here.  Travel matters!  Visitors matter!

We are making a difference, and the welcome center is enabling us that much more.  How cool is it that you who know Denton so well are shaping our visitors’ experiences by sharing what you love most about our city?

To celebrate NTTW this year, our quest is to fill the #dentonbucketlist bucket.  Oh, the bucket is quite real.  It’s been in the welcome center all weekend, and throughout this week will move place to place around Denton.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to find out where the bucket will be so your #dentoning ideas will find their way into visitors’ hands.

As we do every year, our CVB team is also celebrating NTTW at TxDOT’s Texas Travel Information Center (TIC) in Gainesville this Friday.  We’re showcasing Denton’s music scene with local singer/songwriter Caleb Coonrod and our local food fare with Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, served up by owner Ken Willis himself.  CVB staff and Denton hotel partners will talk #dentoning with out-of-state travelers throughout the day.

The CVB sees Denton like visitors do.  More and more Dentonites are seeing it too.  Face it.  This is a fun place!  We are music, horse country, art, history, culture, education, sustainability, and organic originality.  Do your part to end the senseless fight against lonely luggage.  Visit the bucket this week, and tell our visitors what #dentoning means to you.