Tacoma-area tourism flourishing after record-setting year

A new report shows a record number of people are visiting Pierce County and leaving their dollars behind.

According to Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, 3.35 million visitors stayed overnight last year in Pierce County, “staying a record 1.57 million room-nights and dropping a record $1.19 billion of direct spending into the Pierce County economy.”

The agency also shared how much the area has grown in terms of tourism dollars, with visitors spending almost 46 percent more money here than they did in 2008.

Last year, the average daily room rate was $103.33, also a new high for the county, according to the agency. Overall hotel revenue hit $162 million in 2018.

According to the 2018 figures, Pierce County hotels averaged 71.4 percent occupancy throughout the year, beating the national average of 66.2 percent.

“During the peak summer season (June – August), hotels saw 82.7 percent occupancy, and during major events and concerts, hotels throughout Tacoma were booked to capacity,” the agency said in its release.

The figures include not only visitors here for leisure, but also those in Pierce County for conferences or as participants and spectators for sporting events.

Dean Burke, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma + Pierce County and Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission, told The News Tribune that the credit is shared.

“It’s every sector, conferences, leisure, travel, sporting, and I think part of it plays into where we are as a market,” Burke said.

Add to that our mix of natural wonders and culture.

“We’re a really nice place to get away to ... and still not be too far from a place to have a nice dinner,” he noted.

News of the record-setting year coincided with U.S. News & World Report ranking the state as the best in the nation.

Add to that, the return of a familiar cruise line to Tacoma making even more stops this year.

The American Constellation this week made the first of five visits this season as part of its Puget Sound cruise itinerary. The vessel made three visits to Tacoma last year.

The ship provides accommodations for 175 passengers; 130 passengers were onboard in the latest visit, according to Foss Waterway Development Authority.

Its first stop to Tacoma for the year, though, made news when a small fire broke out aboard the ship, caused by failed electrical wiring in a linen/storage room, according to Tacoma Fire Department. Four people were evaluated for minor injuries and two were transported to an area hospital for additional evaluation.

The ship is expected in Bremerton on Sunday, rescheduled from Friday, according to a Bremerton Marina social media post. It is one of the cruise’s 11 stops.