Visitors descended on King County at record rates for the ninth consecutive year, according to statistics released at Visit Seattle’s annual meeting today.
Preliminary estimates indicate that 40.9 million visitors came to King County last year, up 2.5 percent from 2017. Visitors last year spent $7.8 billion, a hike of 5.8 percent from two years ago. There were 21.3 million overnight visitors.
The increase is being driven by conventions and international tourists, who tend to stay longer and spend more than domestic travelers. The growth of local companies like Amazon and Microsoft and the addition of direct-service international flights contributed as well.
“We are so encouraged by these strong 2018 statistics showing significant growth in Seattle and King County tourism,” Visit Seattle President and CEO Tom Norwalk says. “Our city is poised for continued growth and for rediscovery by many visitors who may not have traveled here lately to experience the exciting changes taking place.”
The increase in tourism has created more employment opportunities as well. Tourism-related jobs increased by 3.1 percent last year, to 78,400.
Visit Seattle is a private, nonprofit organization that essentially serves as King County’s tourism agency.