Press Release

News Release
April 25, 2016

Media Contact:
David Blandford
(206) 461-5806
dblandford@visitseattle.org

 

Seattle Achieves Record Tourism Growth for the Third Consecutive Year, Job Growth Out-Paces the U.S.


SEATTLE – Statistics released today show record visitor volume, expenditures, tax contributions and travel-related employment for Seattle and King County in 2015. The positive impact numbers were released by Visit Seattle and its national research firms, Tourism Economics and Longwoods International, today at the Visit Seattle annual meeting, held before 800 tourism professionals, elected officials and national industry speakers at the Sheraton Seattle hotel in downtown Seattle.

A total of 38.1 million visitors came to the city and county in 2015, up 2.6 percent over the previous year. Overnight visitor volumes increased 2.3 percent to 19.7 million while total day visitors increased 3 percent to 18.3 million.

Total visitors spent $6.8 billion in the city and county in 2015 – an impressive increase of 5.8 percent over the previous year. When indirect and induced impacts of this direct spending are calculated, tourism in Seattle generated an estimated $9.7 billion total economic impact.

Visitors paid $692 million in state and local taxes in 2015, and a total of $1 billion including federal tax receipts – up 7.9 percent in 2014. These tax revenues offset the average household tax burden in the city and county by $855.

Tourism kept pace with overall job growth in the city and county in 2015, outpacing the state and U.S. There were 73,018 travel related jobs (up 3.4 percent) in Seattle and King County. These jobs represent 5.8 percent of all employment in the county (1 in 17 jobs). Direct jobs paid $2.1 billion in income; when indirect and induced impacts were included, tourism generated $3.4 billion in labor income.

“The performance of Seattle tourism has been striking,” said Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics. “Visitor spending has expanded by more than 7 percent a year over the past five years, significantly outpacing the rest of the U.S.  It’s evident in the data that the tourism sector is enjoying a remarkable run of success in both domestic and international visitor markets.”

Some other trends in Seattle travel include the following:

  • International markets hold one of the destination’s most exciting growth opportunities. International visitors account for 7.3 percent of Seattle’s total visitor volume but represent 17.3 percent of total visitor spending, as they stay longer and spend more than domestic travelers. International visitor spending grew 2.8 percent in 2015 according to today’s Tourism Economics research. According to the Port of Seattle, international arrivals grew 14.6 percent at Sea-Tac last year.
  • Downtown Seattle hotel room demand continues to outpace supply, and record occupancy above 80 percent helped push room rates 8.3 percent higher in 2015.
  • Seattle continues to turn away more convention business than it can book due to date availability at the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC), which is currently the smallest large-city convention center on the West Coast. Development of an additional convention facility a block north, and in conjunction with nearby private hotel development, will improve Seattle’s competitive position. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 with completed projected in 2020.

“Seattle and the region are well positioned for continued growth and may very well out pace many other destinations and the U.S. as a whole in 2016,” said Tom Norwalk, Visit Seattle President & CEO. “However, as a destination we must work to ensure that we have adequate infrastructure to accommodate growth potential. Critical civic initiatives include construction of the Washington State Convention Center’s additional facility, new hotel development, the Sea-Tac Airport Master Plan, Central Waterfront development and region-wide transportation enhancements.”



Visit Seattle, a private, nonprofit marketing organization, has served as Seattle/King County’s official destination marketing organization (DMO) for more than 50 years. The goal of these marketing efforts is to enhance the employment opportunities and economic prosperity of the region. For more information, visit www.visitseattle.org.

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