The fourth of July is just around the corner, with families and friends planning to get together and celebrate the birth of our nation and the ideas of democracy and freedom that were rooted in the American Revolution. While some people choose to stay home and BBQ with friends and neighbors, many Americans travel to celebrate the holiday.
This year, AAA predicted that almost 50 million Americans will travel in the United States over the July 4th holiday weekend. According to the same report, travel volume during the Independence Day weekend is expected to increase by 4.1%, the highest increase since 2000. A majority of people who plan to take a vacation will travel by car while a smaller percentage will get away by plane or vacation on a cruise. Holiday travel is expected, especially during the summer months when the weather is beautiful and perfect for outdoor celebrations. But the travel increase will also be a welcome economic boost in the tourism industry.
As people decide where they want to spend their Independence Day, there are so many wonderful places to celebrate they may have a tough time choosing. The bigger cities will, of course, attract a lot of tourism, but they aren’t the only places with big celebrations. Country Living’s ranking of the top 20 best places to watch fireworks across America included smaller towns like Cody, Wyoming, and smaller cities like Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
So what do they have to offer visitors on Independence Day?
Cody, a city with a population of less than 10,000 people, recognizes our nation’s independence with a five-day celebrationcomplete with a rodeo, fireworks display, and craft fairs. Gatlinburg hosts the very first Independence Day celebration in the United States by kicking off festivities with a fireworks display at 12:01 am on July 4th. This event attracts between 80,000 and 100,000 people every year. And Minneapolis hosts a Red, White, and Boom celebration on the downtown riverfront with live music and fireworks that’s attended by 75,000 people.
Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of these amazing celebrations that take place in lesser-known cities. Thankfully, there are tourist organizations that promote all of the exciting cities to visit during the holiday weekend. Take, for example, Brand USA, a public-private partnership that promotes the United States as a premier tourist destination for international tourists.
Independence Day celebrations provide a great opportunity to show off our vast and beautiful country to international visitors. And organizations like Brand USA make sure those visitors are aware of everything America has to offer – from sea to shining sea. Since 2015, Brand USA’s marketing initiatives have made $21 billion in total economic impact. Even better it doesn’t require a single dollar of American taxpayer money. Instead, it’s funded by a small fee some international visitors pay combined with contributions from private businesses that benefit from the tourism industry. It’s one of the very few win-win organizations out there – it costs taxpayers nothing while bringing in billions of dollars to state and local economies.
As the estimated 50 million Americans gear up for the vacation plans over the July 4th holiday to celebrate our nation’s birthday, I encourage them to look outside of major cities for a destination. We should experience everything our country has to offer and not just the biggest cities.
Octavio Cesar Martinez is an author and speaker. Formerly, he was a Chaplain and Pastor. His books include ‘Habits: Six Steps to the Art of Influence’ and ‘It Was A Beautiful Day When My Father Died’.