American workers take only 77% of available paid vacation leave each year, forfeiting a total of 169 million days worth $52.4 billion, according to the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). It’s worried about this state of affairs.
The association represents transportation, hospitality and tourism providers—a group that clearly wants more money in its cash registers, not on employers’ balance sheets.
In fact, the USTA has launched what it calls an “unprecedented effort to motivate American workers to use more of the paid time off they have earned.” Americans are taking less vacation time than at any point in nearly 40 years. In 2013, employees took an average of 16 days of vacation, down from 20.3 days in 2000.
How can HR help bolster the beleaguered $900 billion travel industry?
Urge supervisors to use all their vacation time. That way, employees will feel free to go on vacation, too. When the boss doesn’t take all his or her leave, says USTA President Roger Dow, “that sends the wrong message.”
At risk, according to the USTA: Nothing less than our cultural heritage.
“If this trend continues, the vacations of our childhoods could be a thing of the past—completely unknown by the next generation. That would be a true loss for our families and our country,” says Dow.