May 9, 2017—Tacoma, Washington — In 2016, Pierce County hosted more visitors, who spent more money and supported more local jobs than any year since records have been kept, according to a report released today by Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, the region’s official destination marketing organization.
Pierce County at large saw 6.3 million visitors, with travel spending reaching $1.13 billion, according to the annual Travel Impacts study by Dean Runyan Associates. That represents a 2.5 percent increase over 2015 travel spending. Additionally, both tourism-related employment and earnings also set records, according to the report. Tourism supported 11,470 Pierce-County jobs (up 0.1 percent over 2015), and accounted for $312 million in wages, which was a 5.6 percent year-over-year increase.
The modest annual growth in tourism in 2016 is all the more impressive, as it constitutes growth over 2015, a year that brought a wave of visitors along with the national spotlight to Pierce County for the U.S. Open Golf Championship, hosted at Chamber’s Bay Golf Course. There were concerns that 2015 would prove a tough act to follow.
“This shows that tourism in Pierce County is bigger than one event, even one as noteworthy as the U.S. Open,” said Bennish Brown, President and CEO of Travel Tacoma + Pierce County. “That event may have helped put this region on the map for a lot of visitors, but making sure that momentum hasn’t evaporated has been the daily work of the museums, hotels, restaurants and attractions that make this a place people want to visit.”
This growth in tourism is reflected in hotel data collected by STR, Inc., also released today. By every major metric tracked by STR, the Pierce County hotel industry also enjoyed modest increases that led to the best year on record, even following on the heels of the U.S. Open. Hotel occupancy was up 0.6 percent year over year to a record 68.4 percent and revenue per available room (RevPAR) was up 2.7 percent to a record $66.10. Overall revenue throughout the county increased by 3.7 percent.