I am one in 1.1 million.

So is each member of the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau team.

So are all the Dentoning Experts at the Discover Denton Welcome Center.

So are owners, managers and staff of Denton hotels.

So are owners, managers, servers and cooks of Denton restaurants.

So are Denton artists, venue owners, business owners and attraction managers.

We are the faces of travel.

This week is National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), a tradition first celebrated 34 years ago after Congress passed a joint resolution in 1983. Since then, 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.

The CVB and Discover Denton Welcome Center staff pose on the Center's opening day in June 2016.

This year’s NTTW theme is “Faces of Travel.” Cities across the nation are sharing stories about the dynamic individuals who comprise our local travel sectors.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, the travel industry is one of the nation’s largest industries and an indispensable source of some 15.3 million American jobs. In fact, one in every nine American jobs depends on travel spending, a revenue stream that supports more than $32.4 billion in wages.

Travel generates $2.3 trillion for the U.S. economy. Direct travel spending in the U.S. totaled $990.3 billion by domestic and international travelers in 2016. Each U.S. household would pay $1,147 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel industry.

Narrowing the travel impact picture down to the state level, preliminary estimates from the Office of the Governor Tourism Division show that direct travel spending in Texas during 2016 was $69.2 billion, supporting more than 1.1 million jobs across the leisure and hospitality, transportation, retail trade, services, finance, real estate, construction, insurance and other industries.

Now, what do all these numbers mean to us right here at home in Denton? This is the good part, especially for all of who are one of the 1.1 million.

According to the Texas Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism division, there are 1,610 faces here in Denton directly employed in the local travel industry with combined annual earnings of $55 million in 2015, or an average annual salary of $35,000 per person.

Travel spending in Denton topped $172 million in 2016, and is estimated to have generated more than $5.2 million in local taxes. These taxes are the fuel behind our original, independent quality of life here in Denton. Without them, every Denton household would spend an additional $354.33 in local taxes every year. Not to mention, 1,610 faces out of Texas’ 1.1 million travel industry wage-earners would be sad and out of work.

With the new Denton Convention Center on the horizon, Rayzor Ranch finally building out, downtown Denton continuing to evolve and thrive, Denton’s tourism draw is stronger than ever, with visitor numbers rising quite literally day-by-day. The number of faces in Denton’s travel industry sector increased by 1.25 percent from 2014 to 2015. No doubt, we will see a dramatic increase in the number of new travel industry jobs between now and next year. The O’Reilly Hospitality Group’s Embassy Suites and Denton Convention Center alone will create more than 100 of those.

Our Denton CVB team is celebrating NTTW as we do each year with our friends at the Texas Department of Transportation’s Texas Travel Information Center (TIC) in Gainesville. CVB staff will be there with Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream talking Dentoning to travelers making their way into Texas. Our strategy at this gathering is showcasing Denton’s originality by dishing out uniquely Denton tastes to the crowds.

We are also dedicating this week to those 1,610 faces of travel in Denton. Tune in to our social and online channels all this week as we celebrate individuals who are making a difference in Denton, affecting the economic impact of travel on our community by going above and beyond in their roles.

These faces of Denton are the people who touch our visitors and deliver on the Original Independent Denton brand promise. They are the ones who most affect every visitor’s perception of their Denton experience as either positive or negative. Videos will bring many of these very special people into focus via Discover Denton’s Facebook, Twitter and at discoverdenton.com.

I am one in Texas’ 1.1 million, and one of Denton’s 1,610. I love my job. Life’s better in a state of travel, especially in Denton.