EATON — The Preble County Convention & Visitors Bureau is saluting the power of travel by honoring its Tourism Volunteers of the Year during National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW).
NTTW is the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, and spotlights the critical role that travel will play in driving economic recovery efforts and building the path forward through the theme “Power of Travel.”
Celebrated annually the first full week in May, NTTW was created by Congress in 1983 to elevate the economic power of travel in the U.S. The 38th annual NTTW (May 2-8) arrives at an opportune moment to recognize the importance to the U.S. economy of initiating a post-pandemic travel recovery.
“NTTW takes on a special significance this year as the travel industry looks to rebound quickly from the pandemic and accelerate recovery efforts,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The past year was incredibly challenging, but we saw the full power of the travel industry on display in the way we united and supported one another through this crisis.”
“Before the pandemic, travel generated $2.6 trillion in economic output, supported 17 million American jobs and delivered a $51 billion trade surplus to the U.S. — evidence of the outsized role the industry will play in America’s broader economic recovery,” said Dow.
Preble County’s historic covered bridges are a big draw for travelers across the state and beyond, and during the pandemic have provided safe driving tours for visitors to enjoy while practicing social distancing. Volunteers Larry and Carolyn Showalter of Eaton have for the past several years traveled the county to ensure the PCCVB’s Covered Bridge Map Brochures are stocked and available for visitors.
“Despite the hardships of the last year, the Preble County CVB is ready and eager to welcome back visitors and help in Preble County’s recovery efforts. National Travel and Tourism Week is an opportunity to remind visitors and residents to shop and dine in our local establishments, visit our covered bridges, and spend some time enjoying Preble County,” said PCCVB President Stephanie Garrett. “The Showalters make it possible for visitors to pick up information regarding the county’s bridges as they visit one or more of our historic landmarks. And that gives travelers what they need to visit more of our communities, and our small businesses and restaurants along the way.”
Stocking the brochures was Carolyn Showalter’s idea, and Larry is just along for the ride.
“We live next to the Christman Bridge, and I put a plastic box like realtors use there, and went to the Chamber of Commerce and asked if I could have some of the brochures,” Carolyn said. “And I kept going back, and Ginny (Preble County Chamber Administrative Secretary) finally said, ‘What are you doing with all of these?’ I explained what I was doing. And I said, ‘You know, if the county would put boxes in all the bridges, we’d be happy to keep them filled,’ and that was four years ago.”
But why? “Because I want people to know the history, and I’m just impressed that the county spent the money to rebuild all the bridges,” Carolyn said Friday afternoon. “This county’s got a historic heart, and I’m very proud of it.”
Garrett presented the Showalters the award at Robert’s Bridge on Friday, April 30, as the Showalters headed out to check on the brochures and stock what was needed across the county.
The Preble County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board includes Garrett, Leslie Collins, David Maynard, Jeff Sewert, Eddie Mowen Jr., Carolyn Ulrich, Mary Myers, Lisa White, Brad Collins, Brenda Latanza, Jeff Ginter and Debbie Mason.
Request a copy of the 2021 This is Preble County Visitors Guide, and/or the Preble County Covered Bridge Map Brochure by calling 937-456-4949 or stop in the Preble County Chamber of Commerce office at 122 W. Decatur St. to pick them up.