Last week, I had the privilege of welcoming the members of Brooks Memorial Junior Orange Lodge from Kendall in Ontario to Orange Order headquarters in Belfast.
They have been raising money from all sorts of ventures over the past three years to enable them to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the lodge by coming to the heartland of their movement.
The Kendall lodge - a credit to the Orange tradition - is a reminder of the enormous potential of The Twelfth: they have rented three houses in north Down during their stay, they have been spending tourist dollars (Canadian) and they are only a small sample of the many thousands of tourists and visitors from overseas who will be watching, or taking part in, the unique Protestant celebration that is The Twelfth.
Most of the grand masters of the Australian states will also be in Northern Ireland this year, there will be lodges or bands from England and Scotland, and they will be adding to the local economy through their visit and their stay.
Last Friday, as I was driving to work, a German tour bus passed under an Orange arch in the village of Glynn outside Larne and pulled up on the pavement, passengers emerging with cameras at the ready. It was another example of the value of the Orange tradition in a tourism context.
Since 2006, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the tourist authorities, both north and south, have co-operated in The Twelfth Tourist Flagship programme, whose representatives this year are the East Antrim and Mid-Down combined, parading through Randalstown and Comber.
It has been most encouraging to be involved in training their Orange Welcome Hosts and to witness the professionalism which the men and women who are Orange ambassadors on the day have shown.
Tourism statistics indicate the potential for internal tourism within the British Isles. We should be building on this, including in the Republic of Ireland, where there is a genuine interest in the Orange tradition.
There is also real potential overseas and there is a case to be made for an independent economic study of the benefits of The Twelfth for the Northern Ireland economy.
When a Northern Ireland Tourist Board official went to Bangor a couple of years ago, he met up with a couple from Belgium.
They had come to Ulster to see The Twelfth because they had witnessed Orange commemorations on the battlefields of the First World War and wanted to see the Orangemen and bands in situ. It is surely an indication of a potential tourism initiative in France and Belgium - if the will were there to develop a pilot project.
There are, of course, problems with The Twelfth being developed and, sadly, I feel that some of them lie in the reticence of some within the tourist sector to grasp fully and engage with the potential which this cultural tourism extravaganza provides.
But there are other difficulties, too. Those who wish to attack the parades and use the parades as flashpoints have little to offer our society.
Unfortunately, Sinn Fein and the republican movement - in targeting the Orange Order and its parades in years gone by for political reasons - now find, it seems to us, that the genie is extremely difficult to get back inside the bottle once released.
Equally, the presence of the Parades Commission is a blockade on the way to any meaningful resolution to the parades issue.
Whatever else may be said about the commission, I think that when they get to the point of pontificating on the actual hymns which bands are to play, we have moved, at best, on to a different level of farce.
It is entirely inappropriate that the police have had to spend time interviewing officers of No 6 District in Belfast about the hymn tunes which were, or were not, played at an Orange Widows' parade.
But the fact that the Parades Commission can be so wasteful of our scarce resources, is so lacking in transparency about its decisions, and turns a blind eye to illegal republican parades while imposing utterly farcical regulations on Orange parades, should be enough for any self-respecting government to call a halt.
Instead of bringing solutions, the Parades Commission is making further problems and increasing tensions - with potentially damaging long-term implications. All of this is regrettable when we are supposed to be moving forward in our society.
As we go into the future, there is one thing we can be sure of: the Orange Order will continue to celebrate the culture, heritage, faith and presence of the Protestant people whom it represents.
Other people, wherever and whoever they are, need to understand, recognise and respect that.