Whether they came to see glaciers or Tiger Woods, tourists spent $1.01 billion in Pierce County in 2015.
“Six years of continual growth in tourism coincided with the U.S. Open golf championship being held in the University Place area, which slingshot us into the national spotlight,” said Bennish Brown, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma.
Pierce County saw 5.9 million visitors in 2015, a 7 percent increase from 2014. That includes 3 million overnight visitors.
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The annual “Pierce County Travel Impacts” report released Wednesday said that the average hotel guest spent $350 during a two-night stay.
Tacoma accounted for 45 percent of travel spending in Pierce County. Mount Rainier accounted for slightly more than 10 percent of spending in Pierce County.
“Most of our international visitors want to see Mount Rainier,” said Matt Wakefield, communications manager for Travel Tacoma.
Nontransportation visitor spending rose 8.2 percent in 2015. That figure is unaffected by fluctuations in fuel prices.
Employment resulting from tourism was at its highest level since 2000, with the industry supporting 11,080 local jobs (full and part time), up 1.6 percent from 2014.
Coffers received $113 million in tax revenue generated in Pierce County, an increase of 8.5 percent.
Visitor spending includes accommodation, food service, food stores, local transportation and fuel, arts, entertainment, recreation and retail sales.
The report detailed spending in nine areas:
▪ DuPont: $7.2 million in travel spending (0.7 percent of total Pierce County travel spending)
▪ Fife: $76.1 million (7.0 percent)
▪ Gig Harbor: $46.0 million (4.2 percent)
▪ Lakewood: $93.2 million (8.5 percent)
▪ Mount Rainier: $118.0 million (10.8 percent)
▪ Puyallup: $104.3 million (9.6 percent)
▪ Sumner: $32.4 million (3.0 percent)
▪ Tacoma: $494.4 million (45.4 percent)
▪ All other (including University Place): $118.6 million (10.9 percent)