The Travel & Tourism Game

Tourists—both domestic and international—are major contributors to the U.S. economy, from how they travel, make purchases and sleep to where they amuse, make arrangements and eat.

By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2019 Issue

According to the U.S. Travel Association, 2.9 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 can be attributed to travel and tourism. Total domestic and international inbound traveler spending in the U.S. reached $1.1 trillion, including Food Services ($267.7 billion), Lodging ($232.2 billion), Public Transportation ($200.4 billion), Auto Transportation ($166.5 billion), Recreation/Amusement (112.6 billion) and Retail ($109.6 billion). This generated $2.5 trillion in economic output and supported 15.7 million jobs, including 8.9 million directly in the travel industry and 6.8 million in other industries. It also created $267.9 billion in American wages and salaries for workers. Travel ranks 7th in terms of employment compared to other major private industry sectors. And tax revenue for federal, state and local governments from this travel spending was $170.9 billion.

travel and tourism
Enjoy local shops, restaurants and events in Henderson’s historic downtown core: the Water Street District. (Photo: Visit Henderson)

Domestic travelers accounted for $933 billion of the 2018 total (86 percent of the total travel expenditures). Domestic travel spending directly supported 7.7 million American jobs and $147.3 billion in tax revenues. Broken down by industry this includes Food Services (25 percent expenditures/41 percent employment), Lodging (20 percent/18 percent), Public Transportation (20 percent/13 percent), Auto Transportation (18 percent/4 percent), Recreation/Amusement (11 percent/17 percent), Retail (7 percent/5 percent) and Travel Planning (2 percent employment).

Areas with gaming as an attraction offer a special lure. The $261 billion U.S. casino industry supports 1.8 million jobs nationwide.

The American Gaming Association’s (AGA) State of the States 2018: The AGA Survey of the Commercial Casino Industry, is an economic analysis of U.S. commercial gaming in the 2017 calendar year. The $40.28 billion in gaming revenue represented an increase of 3.4 percent over 2016’s figure, and direct taxes from commercial gaming passed the $9 billion mark. According to Oxford Economics, the U.S. commercial casino industry directly employed more than 361,000 employees in 2017, and those employees earned more than $17 billion in wages, benefits and tips.

The AGA defines commercial casino locations as licensed, individual land-based casinos, riverboat casinos, racetrack casinos (racinos) and jai alai frontons. It also includes casino locations that offer gaming devices classified as video lottery terminals or video gaming terminals. In 2017, there were 460 commercial casino locations across 24 states. Three new properties opened in New York state, one in Kansas and others began or completed major renovations or expansions in 2017.

Here’s a look at a few locations that are definitely worth a visit.


Henderson defies the expectations of what Southern Nevada should be.

If Las Vegas is Red Bull-and-Vodka clubbing, Henderson is artisan breweries and hand-crafted wines. If Nevada brings to mind the flashing neon of The Strip, Henderson is the quiet relaxation and abundant recreation at Lake Las Vegas.

Now, this welcoming Southern Nevada getaway—think of it as the Santa Barbara to Southern California’s Los Angeles—is turning its successful tourism advantages and renowned quality of life into a magnet for out-of-state businesses that seek the welcoming tax advantages, accommodating business environment and desirable cost-of-living that Henderson offers.

Henderson’s appeal to both visitors and residents comes from a complex combination of re-energized historic districts, world-class sporting events, unique community culture and vibrant shopping, dining and drinking districts.

Here’s a look at Henderson’s hidden gems and how they are redefining what Southern Nevada means for a new generation of visitors and entrepreneurs.

Laidback Lake Las Vegas: Lake Mead’s packed on-the-water parties may come to mind for most people when “Las Vegas” and “Lake” are mentioned in the same sentence, but Lake Las Vegas has an entirely different vibe all its own. Waterfront golf courses snake alongside the water, and a refined village center sits on its shores.

People come to Lake Las Vegas to cool down from the Southern Nevada sun, but also to golf, dine, walk and relax. With a focus on wellness and dining, the lake is the perfect place to recharge and enjoy the calmer side of Southern Nevada.

Whether it is a vacation, a second home or increasingly, a primary residence, Lake Las Vegas has made a name for itself as a welcoming oasis that can be as laid back or recreation-rich as desired.

Pigskin and Pucks: Like many California companies and weekenders, Raider Nation recently made the move from California to Southern Nevada. And while the Raiders and Golden Knights may play under the bright lights of Las Vegas, their practice facilities (and in the case of the Raiders, their headquarters) are located in Henderson.

The presence of professional hockey and football in Henderson adds to the city’s draw for tournaments and sports camps, while giving locals and visitors a chance to catch a peek of the professional teams as they practice in the off-season.

Water Street Dining and Shopping: Henderson’s historic Water Street District is the heart of the city, a blend of boutique restaurants and shops in a pedestrian-friendly downtown.

Art galleries and an expansive outdoor events plaza serve up cultural attractions, and an historic walking tour explores the history of Henderson’s oldest buildings.

But it is not all about history in Henderson’s downtown, redevelopment incentives are bringing new businesses into parts of Water Street, allowing for a seamless blend of history and new economic energy into Henderson’s core. The central location and economic vitality of the downtown area make it a perfect place for aspiring entrepreneurs to make their mark on their new home.

Artisan Booze District: Henderson’s off-the-beaten-path artisan booze district is where drinkers can sample small-batch wines, craft beer and hand-crafted liquor in the same district that they are distilled and brewed.

From Grape Expectations to CraftHaus Brewery and Las Vegas Distillery, this easily walked warehouse district offers up tastings for every palette, allowing visitors to sample from a wide variety of Henderson’s most eclectic and flavorful drink menus. A world away from the big-brand drink scene of The Strip, this trip to Henderson’s growing drink district will have you interacting with the brewers, distillers and wine makers that take great care in each batch of booze.

Henderson’s unique community character and growing appeal to entrepreneurs and visitors is compounding on itself—bringing in more recreational, cultural and quality of life amenities to a city that retains its neighborhood feel. While Southern Nevada is often stereotyped as fast-paced, high-priced and neon-lit, Henderson remains a surprisingly serene side of the southern state, where entrepreneurs, snowbirds and weekenders all can feel at home even while feeling like they’re getting away.


Home to the Naval Air Station Fallon, the U.S. Navy’s premier training facility for all Naval aviators and Navy SEALs, Churchill County is powered entirely by renewable energy from geothermal, solar and hydro-electric sources with residents consuming just one-tenth of what Churchill County produces.

The City of Fallon is located in Churchill County, the beautiful Oasis of Nevada and gateway to the Great Basin for those travelling east over the Sierra Nevada, one hour’s drive from Reno and 90 minutes from scenic Lake Tahoe. As the gateway to the Great Basin, Churchill County boasts abundant hunting and fishing, bird watching and breath-taking recreational opportunities. Centrally located in Northern Nevada, Fallon is only a short drive from some of the finest outdoor recreation areas in the country, as well as ghost towns, historical sites and the historic mines of Nevada’s past.

NAS Fallon, home of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, is Churchill County’s leading and still growing economic contributor. The 14,000-foot runway remains the longest in the Navy, making Fallon a one-stop training facility unequaled throughout the military. Over 3,000 active duty personnel, civilian employees and DoD contractors enjoy a high quality of life that is enhanced by the numerous facilities on base and by those within the surrounding areas.

Diverse agriculture resulting from the nation’s first Reclamation Project follows with over 197,000 acres in production. Most of that acreage supports the 24 local dairies that account for 85 percent of Nevada’s dairy farms and provide milk to the Dairy Farmers of America whole milk powder plant. But over 56,000 of those acres produce specialty and row-crops, including an emerging gluten-free teff grain industry as well as a local vineyard and Nevada’s first estate distillery, award-winning Frey Ranch Distillery, where free public tours and tastings are conducted each and every Saturday.

All this contributes to the area’s strong, natural resource-based economy, including a diverse population of skilled workers and a very pro-business environment. Located at the historical crossroads of current highways US50 and US95 and within the I-80 and future I-11 corridors, the area is just minutes from the Tahoe Regional Industrial Center, home of Tesla, Panasonic, Google, Switch and now Blockchains. The realignment of the original transcontinental railroad crosses Churchill County and is serviced by both Union Pacific and BNSF. The Fallon Industrial Lead and the Mina Branch, both serviced by Union Pacific, have excess rail capacity and available existing switches.

Other large non-rail served parcels are located along the identified transportation corridors also suitable for development. Within the City of Fallon numerous shovel-ready parcels are available, including those located at the New River Business Park, the Hospital Medical Campus and the Fallon Municipal Airport located in the newly designated Opportunity Zone. All of this is connected to the world through gigabit broadband service offered through locally owned CCCommunications.

The Churchill County School District serves approximately 3,273 students and consists of one high school (grades 9-12), one middle school (grades 6-8), three grade level schools (grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5) and one early learning center (Pre-K). Oasis Academy, the local charter school, serves approximately 148 students in grades K-12. All Churchill County schools contribute to and reflect the community pride and support for student achievement in academics, sports and extracurricular activities. Fallon also is home to a local campus of the Western Nevada College (WNC) and its Rural Centers. WNC is a comprehensive community college that serves more than 5,000 students each year across an 18,000-square-mile service area, offering a diverse curriculum and multiple degrees.

Banner Community Hospital, one of the 29 hospitals and care facilities in the non-profit Banner Health network, is a 25-bed critical access hospital with full emergency and surgical facilities, home to a dedicated care-flight facility for air transport, and recently completed a $10 million upgrade to its Emergency Room. Fallon also has a renowned urgent care facility, many medical practitioners and an emerging Medical Campus.

Businesses thrive in Fallon and Churchill County, boasting four Small Business Award winners for the state of Nevada in the past five years. Perazzo Brothers Dairy was recognized as Export Business of the Year in 2015.

In 2016, Lattin Farms as Rural Business of the Year and Nevada Tannery as Microenterprise Business of the Year. This year Kent’s Supply Center is celebrated, the oldest retailer in Nevada winning the SBA Nevada Legacy Business of the Year.

The 504 rooms served by Churchill’s hospitality sector run near full vacancy year-round serving out of town clients visiting various businesses in the area, many of those providing support services to NAS Fallon. Competition for these rooms can be stiff at times with Fallon playing host to numerous youth sporting, rodeo and auto racing events year-round and other regular events such as the annual Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair, Dairy and Livestock Summit, and musical performances at the historic Oats Park Art Center.

The City of Fallon enjoys hosting anyone looking to bring their business to the community which is always on, powered continuously by renewable energy, connected to the world through gigabit broadband service and always open for your business.


Whether you’re pedaling or paddling or trolling or strolling, follow your bliss in a paradise wrapped with unparalleled natural amenities.

Since it was founded, Cape Coral, Florida, has been known as a “waterfront wonderland.” If you love paddling, fishing, boating, strolling or taking nature photos, you’ve come to the right place. The Gulf of Mexico, Caloosahatchee River and Pine Island Sound wrap the Cape, and the city is crisscrossed by 400 miles of canals.

Whether you come for a weekend or for a few months, you won’t be far from white-sand beaches, refreshing Gulf breezes, marinas, nature parks, bike paths and other amenities that trick full-time residents into believing they’re on vacation every day.

Walk on the Wild Side. Cape Coral is home to abundant wildlife, in the air, sea and on land. More than 300 species of birds visit or live along Lee County’s coastline, making it a top bird-watching destination in the U.S. Some of Southwest Florida’s most interesting creatures can be easily viewed in many of its parks.

Cape Coral has the largest Florida burrowing owl population with 2,500 documented burrows. It is not uncommon to see these yellow-eyed, pint-sized residents standing outside of their underground dwellings year-round. They are protected under state and federal law and were made famous in Carl Hiasson’s “Hoot.”

Burrowing owls are joined by a wide range of other avian neighbors: ibis and egrets, hawks, American bald eagles, sandhill cranes, American kestrels, terns, sandpipers, woodpeckers and many more.

In its waterways, expect to see dolphins and manatees, along with a rich variety of fish. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is common in the area, and many dolphins live here full-time. These curious creatures can be seen from the shore, playing in the wake of boats or occasionally cruising the Cape’s canals. Manatees are gentle, air-breathing mammals, often referred to as “sea cows.” They can grow up to 13 feet and 3,000 pounds but are docile vegetarians. Because they are susceptible to cold, manatees—protected under state and federal law—congregate in warm water during cold snaps.

If you’re lucky, you may see a gopher tortoise, which lives underground in extensive networks of burrows. Gophers are a protected species with high-domed shells—and unlike their marine cousins, they aren’t swimmers. And while many residents in Cape Coral go for years without seeing an alligator, they thrive in Southwest Florida. Also a protected species, alligators prefer fresh and brackish water—and they enjoy golf courses, where sun-warmed greens and ponds are an inviting habitat.

Get Outside. Do you like bocce, horseshoes, bicycling, tennis, swimming or flying remote-control airplanes? Wherever your passions leads, you are sure to find it in Cape Coral. The award-winning Parks and Recreation Department manages nearly 40 facilities for city residents and visitors to enjoy. Select highlights include:

  • Rotary Park Environmental Center: This 97-acre preserve showcases salt marsh and uplands ecosystems, as well as a native plant garden and butterfly house. The preserve has a wide variety of attractions: a large playground, nature trails, an observation tower, bike path and dog park. It is home to the annual Burrowing Owl Festival each February.
  • Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve & Kayak Shack: Stroll the walking trail and boardwalk to the Caloosahatchee River at this 365-acre wetland preserve. Learn more about the region’s ecosystem and spend some time at the Veterans Memorial, which pays tribute to those who’ve served in the U.S. armed services. From November through May, weekend kayak rentals are available at the Kayak Shack.
  • Bernice Braden Park: This linear park at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge offers spectacular views of the Caloosahatchee River and is a great place to enjoy the serenity of the environment, go fishing or picnic.
  • Jaycee Park: This riverfront park hosts numerous festivals and events. With a walking trail, gazebo, picnic areas, fitness stations and playground, it’s a popular place to have a birthday party or simply relax.
  • Yacht Club Community Park: One of the city’s original landmarks, this city centerpiece includes a beach, swimming pool, marina, boat ramp, fishing pier, picnic area and playground.