Credit: Garden State Hiker/Flickr

March is just around the corner, and for many college students, that means spring break. The first thing that may come to mind is a beach in the Caribbean or backpacking in Europe, but there are plenty of domestic, outdoor vacation destinations that can be just as exciting. Why not go hiking in one of our nation’s great forests or check out a wildlife refuge?

The president and the administration encourage you to do so. Outdoor recreation remains a top priority for them, from instilling healthy habits in kids to boosting spending figures from international tourism. America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, for example, has set a recreational and conservation agenda to reconnect Americans with the outdoors.

Last month, the Obama Administration released an Executive Order to accomplish two objectives that will improve travel and tourism in the U.S. The first objective is to improve visa and foreign visitor processing. The second objective is to form a task force to promote domestic and international travel opportunities in the U.S. and to boost the U.S. position in the global tourism market. The International Trade Administration (ITA) has been put in charge of forming the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness to establish a National Travel and Tourism Strategy.

The ITA recently had a public comment period to accept suggestions for the National Travel and Tourism Strategy. American Forests submitted comments, advising that the strategy promote outdoor recreation opportunities and support federal programs that fund outdoor recreation opportunities; like the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The U.S. has a vast array of outdoor recreation opportunities that could be a great benefit to the travel and tourism market, and it’s important that they get the funding they need.

So the next time you think about taking a vacation, consider the numerous opportunities that outdoor recreation has to offer. You’ll be having fun while you also support local communities and recreation programs.