Mike Gibbons, former National Restaurant Association board chairman, has been named to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Board. The board's new members were announced this week by President Barack Obama in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

The travel and tourism industry presents a big opportunity for job and sales growth for restaurants.

According to NRA research, casual and family dining restaurants derive an average of 25 percent of annual sales from travelers and visitors. The trend is even more prevalent among operators of fine dining establishments, with an average of 40 percent of revenues coming from travelers and visitors. In the quick-service segment, an average of 15 percent of annual sales come from travelers and visitors.

The restaurant industry employs nearly 13 million individuals – close to 10 percent of the U.S. workforce. Each additional million dollars in restaurant sales generates 34 jobs for the economy, and every restaurant job supports almost a full job position elsewhere in the economy. In addition, every dollar spent by consumers in restaurants generates an additional $2.05 spent in our nation's economy.

"One of every three dollars in restaurant sales is related to tourism, so what occurs in the travel and tourism arena has a direct correlation to advancement of restaurant industry sales, as well as an impact on job creation," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA's Research & Knowledge Group.

Gibbons, of Ann Arbor, Mich., is president and CEO of Mainstreet Ventures, which since 1981 has operated fine dining establishments in six markets in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and, most recently, Maryland.

The NRA is a member of the "Discover America Partnership," a coalition of business and hospitality industry leaders united to help the U.S. become more competitive in the global travel marketplace.

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