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Recently-released tourism impact numbers from the Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB) indicate that incremental travel and tourism growth is underway and that Seattle is poised for yet greater growth in 2012.
Overnight visitor volumes in the city and county increased 3.6 percent in 2011, according to the annual Economic Impacts of Travel, 2011: Seattle and King County, Washington. Those 9.9 million travelers spent $5.9 billion while visiting the city and county, an increase of 6.6 percent.
Seattle and King County visitors paid $463 million in state and local taxes in 2011 (up 6.6 percent); about 95 percent of these taxes were sales or excise taxes on goods and services purchased by visitors.
Jobs supported by travel spending also increased in 2011. There were some 51,000 travel related jobs (up 0.7 percent) in King County. This follows declines of 0.3 percent in 2010 and 6.7 percent 2009.
“In 2012, Seattle and the region are well positioned for growth and may very well out pace many other destinations and the U.S. as a whole,” said Tom Norwalk, SCVB president. “Business on the books for 2012 is solid and indicators across many industry segments show positive potential. And, the newly inaugurated Seattle Tourism Improvement Area (STIA) finally offers us the marketing muscle we need to compete with other destinations.”
Late last year, the city of Seattle adopted the STIA as a dedicated source of funding for tourism marketing and promotion by imposing a $2 per night surcharge on certain hotel rooms. The fund helps fill a void in tourism promotion as both the state and city eliminated their direct support of tourism marketing efforts due to severe budget cuts. In 2011, Washington became the only state to not fund tourism promotion.
Last month, SCVB launched its first major leisure travel advertising campaign with the use of STIA funds, called 2 Days in Seattle. The first quarter campaign targets travel consumers in key tourism feeder markets in the northwest, British Columbia and northern California for Seattle vacations during the Emerald City’s traditional off-season.