Seattle and King County set a new tourism record in 2018. According to new data released at Visit Seattle’s Annual Meeting at Benaroya Hall, the city and county welcomed a record 40.9 million visitors last year, up 2.5 percent from the previous year. Overnight visitors also increased by 2.3 percent to 21.3 million.
Visitor spending also rose in 2018, by 5.8 percent over the prior year to a total of $7.8 billion. Visitors paid $806 million in state and local taxes in 2018, an increase of 5.7 percent from the previous year. That spending translated into a 3.1 percent gain in travel-related jobs, to a total of 78,400.
All told, visitor volume, expenditures, tax contributions and travel-related employment set records in 2018.
Tourism officials attributed the growth to a number of important travel-related developments over the past year, including the opening of seven new hotels in the downtown area, resulting in a rise in hotel inventory of 19 percent – the highest increase in supply since 1982. A strong December for meetings and conventions also contributed, with officials marking out the Linux Foundation’s KubeCon as a particular success during what can be a challenging time of year for travel and tourism in the area.
The data is drawn from preliminary 2018 estimates in the Visit Seattle report, which was created in conjunction with national research firms Tourism Economics and Longwoods International. Final data from the study will be released in early May, tourism officials said.