SEATTLE – Visit Seattle, the official destination marketing organization for Seattle, has released preliminary tourism impact metrics from 2022: a year that’s proven to be pivotal for the ongoing recovery of the city’s tourism industry. The figures were announced today at the organization’s Annual Meeting at the Westin Seattle. The event included insights from prominent hospitality professionals and local civic leaders, including Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Visit Seattle CEO and President Tammy Blount-Canavan.
Preliminary data* from 2022 points to a path for tourism recovery, with increases in visitor volume, expenditures, and travel-sector employment for Seattle and King County. The estimates from Visit Seattle, created in conjunction with Tourism Economics, indicate:
A total of 33.9 million visitors came to Seattle and King County in 2022, a 27.4% increase from 2021. Overnight visitors increased by 34.9% to 18 million.
Those visitors spent $7.4 billion in the city and county in 2022 (up 37.8% from 2021) and paid $689.1 million in state and local taxes in 2021, an increase of 34.4% from the previous year.
A steady increase in tourism sector jobs in the city and county. There were 61,978 in Seattle and King County in 2022, up 12.6% from 2021.
“I define 2022 as a time of rebuilding and connection, as the people who make up our greater community – including hospitality professionals, small business owners, civic and community leaders, and Seattleites – rallied together to build a strong foundation for business and leisure travel to return in a big way,” said Tammy Blount-Canavan, CEO and President of Visit Seattle.
Last year marked the beginning of Tammy Blount-Canavan’s tenure as CEO and President of Visit Seattle, the first female CEO in organization history. Blount-Canavan and the Visit Seattle team attribute tourism sector growth in 2022 to a number of factors, including a global rebound of leisure travel coming out of the pandemic, an increase in business travel, meetings and conventions; an increase in entertainment and sports offerings (which included the Kraken’s inaugural Season and a slew of concerts at Climate Pledge Arena); and the return of cruise season. Last year also saw the opening of the new International Arrivals Facility at Sea-Tac Airport.
“Tourism is an economic engine for Seattle – it’s a driver for job creation, strengthens our businesses of all sizes, and is a point of local pride,” said Mayor Harrell. “We all have a stake in building a flourishing and thriving tourist industry, attracting visitors from across the state, country, and world. New programs like the Downtown Activation Plan – which is focusing on making our downtown safe, vibrant and welcoming for visitors and locals alike – paired with an ambitious lineup of global meetings and sporting events, and major infrastructure advancements like the new waterfront – are laying the framework for the Seattle of the future we all want to see.”
“One of the things that brings people from all over to King County is our live music community,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Our partnership with Visit Seattle on the Cloudbreak Music Festival was a success for our region, with 26 venues, 70 hotels and more than 150 local musicians involved. Through our work together, we’re supporting musicians, venues and our thriving visitor and entertainment industries.”
The year ahead will be monumental for the city – as Seattle prepares to host MLB All-Star Week in July. Early projections from Visit Seattle estimate over $50 million in economic impact from the game and corresponding activities during the week. The city also anticipates an increase in meetings and conventions, with the new Summit building (which opened in January). Paired with the original Arch building, Summit nearly doubles the capacity of the Seattle Convention Center, and has already hosted major events in 2023 – including Emerald City Comicon and the AWP Conference & Bookfair – with many more on the horizon.
“Recovery is not an overnight fix, but there’s a lot of hope and excitement in looking at the year ahead,” said Blount-Canavan. “Our city will be in the public eye in a big way – from major sporting events to international conferences. With these major events, we’re ready to show the world what we know: Seattle is the best city to visit and to do business in.”
Visit Seattle welcomed more than 500 tourism and business professionals to the annual event. Blount-Canavan, Mayor Harrell and Executive Constantine were joined by keynote speaker, Rick Antonson (former CEO and president of Tourism Vancouver). Other program highlights included a Global Meeting Industry Day presentation by Nan Marchand Beauvois (U.S. Travel Association) and a presentation by Zahoor Ahmed (Chair of Visit Seattle Board) who recognized Visit Seattle’s Board.
* Final data from the Tourism Economics / Visit Seattle study will be released in April
Media images are available here.
About Visit Seattle:
Visit Seattle has served as the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Seattle and King County for more than 50 years. A 501(c)(6) organization, Visit Seattle enhances the economic prosperity of the region through global destination branding along with competitive programs and campaigns in leisure travel marketing, convention sales and overseas tourism development. Visit visitseattle.org.
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