SEATTLE – Tourism industry leaders are predicting record growth ahead of an annual tourism convention in downtown Seattle. The event will start at 11:30 a.m. Monday.
Seattle is one of the fastest-growing tourism markets in the country, according to Visit Seattle CEO and President Tom Norwalk. The success is measured by continued growth at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), through convention center attendance and hotel stays-– all are up this year.
“The message is things are incredible,” said Norwalk. “I think people can see it and feel it in our city, not only with the growth but just the number of people on the streets.”
Up to a thousand hotel, convention and tourism leaders will gather to learn the latest statistics on revenues, visitors, jobs and tax creation on Monday. Norwalk believes the 2015 numbers will be in record territory, similar to numbers at Sea-Tac. U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow agrees.
“I think people are just discovering Seattle,” said Dow. “We were looking at the Space Needle, and we were saying that’s the first time anyone in America even thought about Seattle. But now it’s changed so much. It’s such a vibrant city wherever you go.”
Changing weather with warmer summers and overall better weather all year long is a major plus.
“The great news is [Seattle is] less seasonal than it used to be,” said Norwalk. “Our occupancy numbers for hotels now are one of the highest on the West Coast and one of the highest in the country.”
Even while Seattle is riding high, the tourism bureau says travel is fragile. Any economic setback could slow things down considerably. There’s no time to rest on laurels, according to Norwalk. Visit Seattle says it is staying completive with new marketing campaigns.
The new statistics will not go public until the convention is underway on Monday. Last year’s statistics for 2014 numbers included a nearly four percent increase in visitors spending $6.4 billion. New numbers released Monday are based on 2015 factors.