Annual Impacts Report Released as National Travel & Tourism Week Begins

SEATTLE (May 20, 2024) – Figures released today by State of Washington Tourism (SWT) indicate continued recovery in Washington State’s visitor volume, expenditures, tax receipts and employment in 2023, though the pace of recovery is uneven across the state and financial gains are undermined by inflation and have not kept pace with other states and employment growth.

     The annual Economic Impacts of Visitors in Washington State, compiled for SWT by national travel research firm Tourism Economics, indicates that real spending, inflationary pressures and price increases continued to play a role in visitor spending growth in Washington last year. Visitor expenditures increased 8.1% to $23.9 billion in 2023, reaching 109% of 2019 levels. However, in inflation-adjusted terms, the industry remains 8% behind 2019 business levels. Washington’s 2023 recovery to its 2019 level of visitor spending (109%) still lags national recovery (118%). Seattle- King County visitor spending increased 12%, outpacing all other counties in the state which collectively grew 5.2%.

     Last year, visits to Washington increased 5.6% to 107.9 million, or 98.5% of 2019 levels. The market was largely comprised of domestic visitors (97.5%). While international markets have been slow to recover, they represent strong growth potential for destinations with international air service. Visits to Seattle-King County grew 9.5%, outpacing the rest of the state which grew just 3.4%. These statistics highlight robust growth in the state’s primary gateway as well as a later recovery trend for some of the state’s urban centers.

     Direct state and local tax revenue increased 7.4% from 2022 to $3.3 billion in 2023, reaching 110.7% of 2019 levels. The total state and local taxes generated by visitors to Washington offset the average resident household tax burden by $1,109 per year.

     “Given the resilience of leisure markets and the ongoing returns of business and international travel, Washington’s tourism industry has the potential to significantly grow economic impact through concerted and sustained marketing and development programs,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics.

     “While we are pleased to see incremental pandemic recovery, we know its pace is uneven across state geographies, business segments and tourism markets,” said David Blandford, SWT CEO. “Increased investment in the state tourism program will drive needed returns in Washington’s visitor spending, tax revenue and job growth and allow us to optimize growth potential in key markets such as international visitation.”

     In 2023, tourism supported 230,290 direct, indirect, and induced (or “total jobs”) jobs, comprising 1 in 21 jobs in the state. Jobs directly supported by tourism numbered 152,131, growing 4.7% over the previous year and representing 93% of 2019 employment levels. In 2023, sectors within the tourism industry showed consistent job growth, led by 64,059 jobs in the food and beverage sector, followed by 32,756 jobs in recreation and entertainment, 29,948 jobs in lodging and 25,003 jobs in retail trade. While the workforce challenges remain an issue for all industry sectors through recovery, it is noteworthy that prior to the pandemic the leisure/hospitality segment led job growth in the state.

     Economic Impacts of Visitors in Washington State compiles survey data from Longwoods International; Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics by industry; STR lodging performance data; tax collections including lodging tax receipts; U.S. Census business sales by industry and seasonal second homes; and international travel data for overseas, Canadian and Mexican travel to the U.S. based on aviation, survey and credit card information.


About State of Washington Tourism

State of Washington Tourism (SWT) is a 501(c)(6) organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of developing and sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing. SWT procures and administers funds for marketing efforts and creates and implements a strategic statewide marketing plan. For more information, visit

Michelle Thana, Director of Marketing