The Original D.M.O. (The Dad & Mom Organization)*

*Author's note: the title is intended to be inclusive of all. Respect to all the Dads, Moms, Guardians and Support out there.

by: Andreas Weissenborn, Destinations International

As part of the $1.9 trillion recovery package, America inches closer to a benefit the rest of the modern world distributes to its residents: a family or child supplementary support credit directly from the government. This will come as an enhancement to the existing child tax credit to be delivered as direct cash to parents, a first in modern times for Americans. Set to begin this July, parents can choose to utilize the enhanced child tax credit to best fit the needs of their family, including the ability for some to consider travel as part of this support. The transformative effect of travel is well known at this point, but travel is outside the means of many who are just trying to survive. An investment in families is a bold step, but a much-needed step to provide the have-nots with the haves and opens the possibilities for destination organization to demonstrate their communities for this unique 2021 opportunity.

We all remember the trip that spurred a sense of wonder or showed us the world is much bigger than we realize from our travels with our parents. Long before his speech at Annual Convention in St. Louis 2019, Jack Johnson frequently started his presentations on the transformative nature of travel and his remembrance of traveling to the World's Fair, EXPO 67 in Montreal with his family. The ability for the Johnsons simply to travel as a family to a destination is a privilege, one that opened cultural and social (and in Jack’s case professional) opportunities for the children to engage in. Yet, many in our times do not have the means to justify travel or tourism for their family over the needs of necessities. In the pyramid of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, travel and tourism would be placed at the top, only met when our basics such as food and shelter are already met. For some, their current finances might not ever allow them to enjoy the higher points of the pyramid, which makes the investment in our families with the enhanced child tax credit a must if we wish for everyone to travel and experience our destinations. We already know the benefits of travel; let us help those benefits be applicable to all families. We must take the position to support parents and to help provide the opportunity of travel for their children.

One of the most established allowances of this system is the Kindergeld benefit for taxpaying residents of Germany. Established in 1975 as an alternative to end of year tax exemptions (like the United States), it became a core program of family support to ensure that childrens' needs are met for health, housing, and personal safety. It is distributed as a direct cash transfer to parents with no strings attached, under the general philosophy to be used on improving the well-being of children. Kindergeld is widely seen as an effective means of eliminating child poverty in Germany, which has also been linked to providing decreases in stress and adult incarceration and increased educational and health outcomes for its residents. Its impact can also be felt economically as a means to increase a country’s GDP and other benefits across families of different socio-economic statuses.

"Moreover, contrary to the impact of child benefit on the probability of going to the movies or cultural events, the increases in the probability of going on excursions or short vacation trips due to an increase in child benefit are driven by households with younger children."

            Due to its extended policy being in effect for over 40 years, Kindergeld has been studied extensively and even linked to the probability of families participating in cultural and social activities which include increased leisure trips at least once a month. From the 2012 study on the impact of the German child benefit on child well-being, “Moreover, contrary to the impact of child benefit on the probability of going to the movies or cultural events, the increases in the probability of going on excursions or short vacation trips due to an increase in child benefit are driven by households with younger children. Since excursions of parents with young children in the household include trips such as visits to the zoo, museums, or amusement parks together with children, this result indicates that child benefit is used for the benefit of children.”

            This link between credited child benefits to child well-being plays into the main objectives of a destination organization, which is to experience its destination. Families that can travel and wish to expand a child’s wellbeing through shared experiences in a destination will be looking for this opportunity to take advantage this summer once the credit goes into effect. A destination organization is the most trusted source of information for any parent, be it a visitor or resident, to discover and hopefully enjoy the transformative nature of travel with their family. Ranging from activities for young and all ages in between, a destination organization can capitalize on promoting itself to families looking to invest their child-benefit in travel this summer through the end of 2021. Families that travel to our destinations provide a shared experience to our children which carry through to them in adulthood. Leaving our next generation with the impression and importance of continuing their own traditions with continued travel and hopefully continuing the cycle onto the next generation. In the end, all roads traveled lead back to parents and we must do what we can to support them.

About the Author

Andreas WeissenbornVice President of Research and AdvocacyDestinations International

About the Author

Introduced to the industry by a random internship application to Visit Baltimore, Andreas began an unexpected career that left him with a continued passion towards tourism. He leads the research and advocacy efforts of the entire organization with an eye towards developing data-driven tools to help destinations around the world tell their story.

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