Whether you have the long holiday weekend or just plain cabin fever, Quad-Citians are invited to Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard this weekend.

This marks the 16th year for the weekend, a winter promotion of the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau. It begins Friday and runs through Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. day.

Designed to attract local residents to the hotels, restaurants and attractions in their hometown, Joe Taylor, the tourism bureau's president and CEO, said "It's a time to have fun."

At a news conference Tuesday, Taylor said 50 Quad-City businesses and organizations are participating in this year's event with coupons, discounts and other specials.

This year, the event also is part of a larger effort to advance the U.S. Travel Association's Project Time Off.

"As we enter 2017, the association is asking Americans to sit down and plot how we are going to use all of our vacation time this year," he said.

He promoted the weekend at the Center for Active Seniors, Davenport, where the Winter Iowa Senior Games coming to the Quad-Cities also was announced.

Taylor cited statistics that show more than half, 55 percent, of American workers left a total of 658 million vacation days unused in 2015. "That means millions of Americans are forfeiting their chances to rest, recharge and experience the world around them at a cost to their workplace, community and economy,'' Taylor said.

The unused paid leave also has implications to the tourism and hospitality industry, he added. "Tourism is not a commodity that carries over from one day which can be sold the next. The hotel room that wasn't used last night, the restaurant meal that wasn't served, or the museum ticket that wasn't purchased is gone forever."

With many parents and students having Monday off for Martin Luther King Day, he said it "is a great time to be a tourist in you own backyard."

"But it's also an educational opportunity for the Quad-Cities to learn more about their community and tell others," he said. "People don't have to travel far during the winter or spend a lot of money to have a great and affordable weekend getaway."

Taylor estimated that the annual Be A Tourist in Your Own Backyard weekend helps fill 300 to 400 Quad-City hotel rooms, or the equivalent of a small conference coming to the Quad-Cities.

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