WASHINGTON STATE TRAVEL IMPACTS & VISITOR VOLUME
Dean Runyan Associates prepared this study for the Washington Tourism Alliance. Dean Runyan Associates has specialized in research and planning services for the travel, tourism, and recreation industry since 1984. With respect to economic impact analysis, the firm developed and currently maintains the Regional Travel Impact Model (RTIM), a proprietary computer model for analyzing travel economic impacts at the state, regional, and local level. Dean Runyan Associates also has extensive experience in project feasibility analysis, market evaluation, survey research, and travel and tourism planning.
The purpose of this study is to document the economic significance of the travel industry in Washington state from 1991-2011. The estimates for 2011 are preliminary and subject to revision. These findings show the level of travel spending by those traveling to and through the state and the impact this spending has on the economy in terms of earnings, employment, and tax revenue. Other estimates provided in this report include overnight visitor volume, average daily spending by type of visitor, travel industry gross domestic product and comparisons with other export-oriented industries in Washington State.
Special thanks are due to Suzanne Fletcher, Executive Director of the Washington Tourism Alliance.
This report provides detailed statewide travel impact estimates for Washington from 1991 to 2011 and estimates of U.S. travel, derived primarily from the Bureau of Economic Analysis Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts. All estimates for 2011 are preliminary.
The Washington State travel industry continued to show modest improvement in 2011, following the steep decline in travel in 2009 in the state and the nation. While most indicators of travel to Washington destinations are up, the travel industry is still not performing at the level prior to the recession. In general, the performance of the Washington State travel industry reflects that of the larger U.S.
- Spending. Travel spending increased by 5.0 percent in Washington State from 2010 to 2011p following a 6.2 percent increase during the preceding 2009-10 period. However, most of the spending increase was due to price increases for rooms and transportation. The travel spending estimates for the larger U.S. are comparable.
- Employment. On a more positive note, there is some indication that travel industry businesses are beginning to hire new workers for the first time since 2008. Overall, travel generated employment increased by 2.1 percent. Employment gains typically lag business revenue after deep recessions such as the one from which we are now recovering. Following a sharp reduction in employment during 2009, employers generally increased the number of hours worked of existing employees and improved their balance sheets in 2010. They are now hiring new employees.
- Tax Receipts. Total local and state tax receipts generated by travel spending increased by 4.5 percent from 2010 to 2011, the same rate of increase as in the preceding year. Lodging tax revenues increased by 7.7 percent.
- Visitation. Visitation to Washington State also grew in 2011, although the rate of increase was less than the preceding 2009-10 period. Room demand, as measured by Smith Travel Research increased by 3.4 percent for the year (preliminary estimate) compared to a 6.4 percent increase the preceding year. Estimates of visitor air travel on domestic flights increased by 1.5 percent, compared to 2.4 percent from 2009 to 2010. Similarly, the total number of overnight person-trips increased by 1.6 percent, compared to 2.8 percent for the preceding year.