Tourism impact numbers released by 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. The news was announced at SCVB’s annual meeting, called the 2012 Seattle Tourism Outlook, last month at the Westin Seattle Hotel in downtown Seattle.
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, compiled by Dean Runyan Associates for SCVB. 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. Last year’s employment uptick is in line with broader economic U.S. trends indicating that jobs typically lag improvement in business income following recessions.
“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 & CEO. “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.
SCVB also 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.
February’s 2012 Seattle Tourism Outlook featured a keynote address by Peter Greenberg, CBS News Travel Editor and one of the nation’s most influential travel industry figures, according to Travel Weekly magazine. While in Seattle, Greenberg broadcast his syndicated travel radio program, Peter Greenberg Worldwide, to some 400 radio stations across the U.S.
Also, King County Executive Dow Constantine presented the 2012 Seattle Tourism Ambassador of the Year Award to Jayme Gustilo, a 20-year veteran of the Seattle Center Monorail who has served 8.5 million guests and logged 165,000 monorail trips. Gustilo’s nomination was selected from dozens by a judging committee that represented a cross section of the tourism industry. Judges reviewed nominees who displayed or embodied the following attributes and actions:
- Direct contact with visitors and regularly go above and beyond to serve and assist them
- Represent the tourism industry with the highest professional standards and serve as an example to peers and a mentor to new tourism industry professionals
- Love their jobs and are natural promoters of our city
- Routinely display Seattle’s high service standards
- Serve as examples of achievement and success within the industry
Learn more at www.visitseattle.org.