VISIT FLORIDA is urging people to book their vacation days for the rest of the year today on National Plan for Vacation Day.

The state’s tourism marketing arm is promoting the Sunshine State with videos of the top Florida vacation destinations for 2017 and posting them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They’ve also created a YouTube playlist of videos highlighting the top getaways.

More than half, or 55 percent, of employees don’t use all their vacation, according to a survey by GfK Global, a market research company. The 658 million unused vacation days represent billions in lost economic potential. If Americans used the vacation time they earned in 2015, it would have meant $223 billion in spending for the U.S. economy.

National Plan for Vacation Day is sponsored by U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off. The initiative held on January 31 emphasizes the importance of planning a vacation at the start of every year. People who plan are more likely to use all of their time off, take more vacation days and report greater levels of happiness, according to the survey.

Time off has inspired some of America’s most admired companies and creative endeavors. The filters that made Instagram so successful were inspired during a walk on the beach that founder Kevin Systrom took while on vacation in Mexico. Lin Manuel Miranda was vacationing when he came up with the idea for the musical, Hamilton. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz noticed the social interactions and sense of community in coffee shops in Verona, Italy and used it as a model for Starbucks shops worldwide.

“Unused time off is not only a missed opportunity for an individual’s health, well-being, and success, but also for businesses who want the best version of their employees,” said Gary Oyster, managing director of Project: Time Off. “National Plan for Vacation Day ensures our hard-earned time off is put to good use for the benefit of all.”

The National Plan for Vacation Day is a natural fit for Florida, where tourism is the number one industry. The Sunshine State had 106.6 million visitors, who spent $89.1 billion in 2015.

About The Author

The youngest of seven children, Terry O. Roen followed two older brothers into journalism. Her career started as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, where she wrote stories on city and county government, schools, courts and religion. She has also reported for the Associated Press, where she covered the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin trials along with the Pulse massacre. Married to her husband, Hal, they have two children and live in Winter Park. A lifelong tourist in her own state, she writes about Central Florida’s growing tourism industry for Florida Politics and Orlando Rising.

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