Visitor Spending Numbers Just Released
We have encouraging news to report! Recently released numbers on tourism and visitor spending for both Washington State and Clark County show moderate, but continued steady growth. According to the latest Dean Runyan report, spending by visitors in Washington State exceeded $16 billion, a 4.4% increase from 2011 to 2012.
Here in Clark County, visitor spending generated just over $446 million, a 4.9% increase; supported 4,050 industry jobs, a 3.4% increase; and generated over $29 million in state and local taxes, a 4.8% increase in 2012. That is good news for our local economy. We are not only keeping pace with the rest of the state, but have surpassed the average.
As a comparison, Yakima and Snohomish Counties are both reporting below the state's average at 1.9% for Yakima County, and 1.0% for Snohomish County. While we are encouraged by our own positive growth numbers, the lack of a competitive statewide tourism marketing effort continues to be a struggle for the industry. Neighboring states are investing in robust marketing initiatives and continuing to gain market share, while Washington State is showing only modest gains. Additionally, the lack of a statewide effort puts more and more strain on the local tourism offices, such as ours, to reach out further with our marketing to create awareness at a state level, and then secondarily down to our local destinations.
The Washington Tourism Alliance, a non-profit group of industry representatives from around the state, has proposed a statewide industry assessment that would generate $7.5 million to fund a statewide tourism marketing program. You will hear more about the effort this year, as the industry readies itself for the 2014 legislative session where they will ask for support in implementing an industry approved and supported self-assessment.
In the meantime, we will continue to work hard to increase visitor spending. Our 2013 strategic plan calls for continued focus in group business (meetings, conferences, conventions, group tours and sports events), as well as advertising outreach, and working directly with travel media to influence positive articles on our area.
Spring is a great time to welcome visitors to Vancouver USA! The flowers are blooming, outdoor markets are open for shopping, sports fields are buzzing with activity- and we get to share what makes our community a special place.
I invite you to read on and see what's happening in Vancouver. You might even find something new- and you too can discover the original Vancouver!
President and CEO