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(SEATTLE, WASH.) –– As more and more Americans struggle to catch their breath from longer workweeks and shrinking vacations, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) announced at the Adventure Travel World Summit in Seattle Oct. 20 its endorsement of a minimum paid-leave proposal that would protect vacation time in the U.S.

The ATTA is the first travel organization to officially endorse the paid-leave initiative.

The proposed legislation, sponsored by Work to Live, in Santa Monica, Calif., and the Seattle-based Take Back Your Time organization, which celebrated national Take Back Your Time Day on Oct. 24, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to grant three weeks of time off for anyone who has worked at a job for a year. Unlike 96 other countries, the U.S. has no law governing vacations.

“The ATTA understands that the real adventure these days is finding time to have a life, as vacations become an endangered species,” said Joe Robinson, who launched the minimum paid-leave effort with the Work to Live campaign and is a member of the board of Take Back Your Time, a broad coalition of organizations committed to fighting overwork and time poverty. “Support from the ATTA is an important step on the way to making minimum paid-leave a reality.”

“Aside from the obvious positive business ramifications for the tourism industry, the ATTA is seriously concerned for the physical and relational health of people in America,” said ATTA President Shannon Stowell. “Unhealthy, overworked and unbalanced lives cause significant negative societal ripples. The U.S. government must recognize its role in helping people seek and find balance to spend more time with their families and friends, more time in the outdoors and more time to do things like volunteer and travel.”

In Europe, citizens get four and five weeks by law; in Japan and Canada two weeks. Without statutory protection in the U.S., vacations are vanishing. Only 14 percent of Americans take two weeks or more at a time for vacation anymore, reports the Families and Work Institute. At a time of dwindling employee benefits, vacations are going the way of pensions and health care. One-third of American women don’t have any paid-leave anymore; one quarter of men, according to an AFL-CIO survey.

“Most Americans don’t even know that things could be different here,” explains John de Graaf, national coordinator for Take Back Your Time. “We set Take Back Your Time Day, an annual event to raise awareness about the epidemic of overwork and time poverty, on October 24th, nine weeks from to end of the year to highlight how much more on average American workers are working (350 hours) per year than Western Europeans. Those 350 hours are composed of shorter work weeks, more national holidays and the biggest chunk is vacation time.”

Without legal validation, vacations in the U.S. have the whiff of illegitimacy, which makes it harder for people to take a break. The minimum paid leave law would entitle Americans to take all their vacation time, something that is being encouraged by some companies, such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the H Group in Salem, Ore.. Vacations have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease in men by 32 percent and by 50 percent in women. Time off shrinks medical bills, and increases productivity and job satisfaction.

“The true source of productivity in the knowledge economy is a refreshed and energized mind,” said Robinson.

Work to Live ( is an organization that advocates work-life balance and promotes the critical role time off and vacations play in time on. The Santa Monica-based group has proposed a three-week minimum paid-leave law to provide Americans with statutory protection against vanishing vacations.

Joe Robinson, Work to Live
(310) 396-1215

The Seattle-based ATTA ( is a strategic membership organization dedicated to raising the profile of adventure travel globally. Established in 1990, the ATTA provides services, knowledge, and connections that help its members succeed in their businesses and contribute to responsible industry growth. The Adventure Travel Trade Association also is host to the annual Adventure Travel World Summit (

Chris Doyle Director, AdventureTravelNews™ Editor
Adventure Travel Trade Association
(916) 847-0261 (unavailable via phone Nov. 1-12)
[email protected] (available intermittently between Nov. 1-12)

Take Back Your Time is a national organization addressing the issues of overwork, overscheduling and time poverty. Offering a range of solutions from personal to cultural to workplace to policy, Take Back Your Time supports reclaiming time for family and relationships, health and exercise, and volunteering and community. October 24th was national Take Back Your Time Day, an annual event to create a national dialogue about the costs of overwork and overscheduling and to celebrate slowing down and taking back time. “Let’s get back to the table!” is the theme for this year’s Take Back Your Time Day celebration. Take Back Your Time is an initiative of the Simplicity Forum and a project of the Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy at Cornell University. (

John de Graaf
National Coordinator, Take Back Your Time
[email protected]

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