What does the word tourism mean to you? An exotic locale? A theme park resort? In the Tri-City region, tourism means millions of dollars in visitor spending, tax revenues and a positive employment outlook. Tourism is a significant economic and cultural driver for our community, creating an enhanced quality of life for residents.
Each year, visitors who attend conventions, sports tournaments, community events and attractions in the Tri-City region spend more than $410 million in Benton and Franklin counties. These dollars spent at restaurants, hotels, retailers, attractions and transportation generate more than $44 million in local and state tax revenues. The tax burden for those of us who live in the community is eased because $15.3 million in taxes is filtered through the local economy.
More than $410 millionAmount that visitors who attend conventions, sports tournaments, community events and attractions spend in Benton and Franklin counties
An energized tourism program supports a diverse and prosperous business community, and creates employment opportunities. Tourism sustains more than 5,560 industry-related jobs in the Tri-City region. Neighborhood pubs and boutique shops may be local favorites, but these small-to medium-sized businesses often flourish because of the financial support of visitor spending.
The lodging industry is thriving. The number of hotel rooms sold in the Tri-City region grew 8 percent in 2015 from the previous year. The number of hotels continues to grow to meet the rising demand, offering visitors more lodging choices than before. In fact, our region will boast a hotel room inventory of almost 4,000 by year end with more hotels opening in the near future. As the supply of hotel rooms increases, it becomes more vital for Visit TRI-CITIES to further develop marketing programs to attract visitors to the area.
In addition to the more than 200 wineries within an hour’s drive, the Tri-Cities is home to the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Washington State University’s Wine Science Center in Richland
In November 2015, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, a commemoration of the nation’s efforts in ending World War II, was formally established. The national park will highlight the B Reactor National Historic Landmark and other Hanford historic sites, along with points of interest at Los Alamos, N.M., and Oak Ridge, Tenn. Only a small percentage of America’s national parks interpret science and technology, making the Manhattan Project National Historical Park unique. The Manhattan Project National Historic Park is expected to draw 100,000 visitors each year and boost international travel to the Tri-Cities. The designation of the national park also provides Visit TRI-CITIES the opportunity to market a growing segment of tourism focused on science and education with other local attractions, such as the Reach Center in Richland, the LIGO Hanford Observatory and the Bechtel National Planetarium at Columbia Basin College in Pasco
Wine tourism continues to be a significant draw for visitors to the Tri-City region. In addition to the more than 200 wineries within an hour’s drive, the Tri-Cities is home to the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Washington State University’s Wine Science Center in Richland. The facility, which welcomed its first students in fall 2015, has already begun to positively impact tourism by supporting programs and events that not only attract academics, but wine aficionados and journalists from across the globe. In addition, the Mid-Columbia Wine Tourism Council, a program of Visit TRI-CITIES, developed and executed multiple events throughout the year to highlight the unique experience of our region’s wineries and vineyards. These marketing efforts position the Tri-Cities as the Heart of Washington Wine Country in the minds of visitors.
More than $44 millionAmount in local and state tax revenues spent at Tri-City restaurants, hotels, retailers, attractions, transportation
Tourism not only serves as an economic driver, it is an investment in our community’s pride. Visitors want to see our community to experience our one-of-a-kind attractions, first-rate amenities and exceptional meeting facilities — reasons the Tri-Cities has enjoyed impressive growth in the tourism sector year after year. In 2015, the Tri-City region played host 227 conventions and sport events, attracting 132,195 visitors who spent $40,569,948 million in the community. Additional hotel properties, attractions and amenities allow Visit TRI-CITIES to be more competitive and secure bigger conventions, trade shows and sporting events. The future of the Tri-City region has never looked brighter.