How you can support the US Territories
By this time of the year, you are probably making plans for a vacation; perhaps for this summer, the coming winter, or even next summer. Maybe you already have a destination picked out, but if you haven’t, consider visiting one of the US territories.
There are several benefits to doing this. For one, the territories do not require a passport if you are a US citizen, immediately saving you hundreds of dollars. English is also widely spoken, so navigating your way through a place such as the Northern Mariana Islands will not be difficult.
The case for vacationing in the territories does not end there either. The temperature does not fluctuate from month to month. For example, American Samoa ranges from 74 to 88 degrees fahrenheit year round, a great beach temperature. Other territories experience similar conditions, making them an ideal spot for travel, especially during winter.
Convenience aside, we as travelers can help grow and support businesses in the US territories through tourism. According to the World Almanac, every US territory counts tourism as a vital sector of their economy. The idea of tourism can be rather complicated to understand however. The total figure of tourism is not just the cost of attending “tourist destinations”, but rather hotel expenses, food, gifts/merchandise, travel, etc. You can quickly see that tourism affects a lot of people, especially in a smaller city or metropolitan area.
In fairness, you would be supporting tourism regardless of where you go on vacation, In the US territories however, it is more important. Why? For places in the United States, the vast majority of people in the tourism industry work for a company, such as a Hilton Inn or a Denny’s Restaurant, but in the territories, there are a greater proportion of independently owned small businesses, many of which are single person operations. According to the World Bank, the self-employment rate is approximately 30% for places such as Guam and United States Virgin Islands, nearly six times larger than the United States. So what does it mean when you buy a dinner from a local fishery or shop at a boutique store in the US territories? It certainly does not mean that the proceeds go directly to corporate America. Rather, it helps support someone who perhaps has a family to go home to and must provide for.
It’s safe to say that whether you decide to go eat while on vacation at a restaurant like McDonald’s or not, they will not be under any sort of financial stress. However, a locally owned business absolutely depends on many of consumers’ split-second decisions to patronize their storefront.
If you decide to visit a place such as Guam for vacation, it’s more than just exploring the rich culture of the Chamorro or checking out the beach, it’s supporting fellow US citizens that live paycheck-to-paycheck. That is the difference between the US territories and your other choices of travel.