Tourists are flocking to Pierce County in record numbers.
Nearly 6.3 million people visited the county last year, according to an annual travel impacts study by Dean Runyan Associates, commissioned by Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, a tourism-oriented group that markets Tacoma and Pierce County destinations.
Once here, visitors to Pierce County spent more than $1 billion on food, hotel stays, transportation and entertainment last year. In 2000, that figure was $598 million, the report says.
Partly thanks to the U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay golf course, 2015 was a record year, too. That year, more than 5.9 million people visited Pierce County, the report states.
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Spending by visitors in 2016 topped $1.1 billion, the report says — a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year. The figure includes spending on air travel, so not all spending is in Pierce County.
The report says more people spent the night at private homes than in hotels last year, 5.7 million nights compared with 2.6 million nights. In all, visitors spent $164 million on hotel stays in Pierce County last year.