COLUMBUS — More and more people are exploring the state of Ohio.
According to TourismOhio, the 2016 data documents the seventh consecutive year of sustained growth within the state’s tourism industry, and highlighting its importance as an economic driver for the state.
Direct visitor spending in 2016 was estimated at $34 billion, an increase of $1 billion from 2015. The direct visitor spending generated an estimated $43 billion in sales, up from $42 billion the previous year.
“Tourism is a job creator and economic catalyst in Ohio communities,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “Visitors see what makes Ohio unique and all businesses benefit.”
The number of tourism visits to and within Ohio increased from 207 million in 2015 to 212 million visits in 2016. Of those 212 million visits last year, nearly 42 million were overnight trips. Research shows that overnight visitors spend, on average, more than three times the amount spent by daytrip visitors ($111 for daytrips vs. $360 for overnight trips).
“Our Ohio. Find It Here. brand encourages visitors to make emotional connections with family and friends while exploring the state, and this campaign is truly resonating with travelers,” said Mary Cusick, director of TourismOhio. “We are seeing more people take advantage of Ohio’s distinct experiences and spending more when they visit. TourismOhio will continue to work with our industry partners to complement their marketing efforts and amplify the Ohio brand.”
Jeff Raible, Sidney Visitors Bureau executive director, said the state’s observations are reflected locally in Sidney and Shelby County.
“Although no formal analysis or research of this economic activity was conducted in Sidney and Shelby County this past year, I can say that based on lodging tax receipts collected by the city of Sidney in 2016, total revenue for hotel stays increased over those of the year before,” said Raible. “Specifically, city lodging tax paid by Sidney based hotels was up a little more than $8,200 in 2016, a 2 percent increase over that paid in 2015. Some of this increased amount could be attributed to changes in room rates, however I have been lead to believe by local operators that occupancy in general was up in 2016 and is continuing on a favorable trend to date in 2017. Granted, we’re not seeing monumental swings here, but from our perspective, any increase in hotel stay related revenue is desirable.”
Raible said the information about overnight visitor spending in communities is a positive sign of a better economic environment.
“We are also encouraged to see that research data reported by TourismOhio indicates overnight visitor spending to have increased in 2016 as compared to 2015 benchmarks,” said Raible. “On average overnight travelers spend more than three times the amount of daytrip visitors per day. It’s worth noting that this data is what the Sidney Visitors Bureau uses to forecast the economic impact of major events and attractions in our area that last year included Country Concert, the Mayfest Soccer Classic, Buckeye Farm Antiques Show and Sidney-Shelby County’s Living History Weekend.”
In addition to an increase in visits and visitor spending, the tourism industry added 7,000 tourism-related jobs last year for a total of 427,000 jobs supported by tourism, up from 420,000 in 2015.
Longwoods International conducted research for the study in partnership with Tourism Economics. TourismOhio utilizes the data to track industry performance and monitor visitor trends. TourismOhio released the data in conjunction with Ohio Tourism Day 2017, a public event celebrating the tourism industry and showcasing more than 60 tourism experiences at the Ohio Statehouse on May 10.