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New data shows downtown Seattle approaching pre-pandemic tourism levels

Seattle's tourism industry is hopeful numbers will continue to climb closer to pre-pandemic levels.

SEATTLE — New data released by the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) shows the city has had a busy tourist season, with numbers closing in on pre-pandemic levels in a handful of economic recovery categories.

"The comeback will be spectacular," is what the DSA said back in April 2020. Now more than two years later, that line is becoming a reality.

"We hear anecdotally from people all the time that downtown's looking great, it's feeling great, there's a lot of activity and it's vibrant right now and what we want to do is put some numbers behind what people are seeing," said James Sido with the DSA.

The numbers released by DSA on Friday show downtown welcomed 2.9 million visitors in July, which was the highest monthly visitor total since the start of the pandemic. With a boom in visitors, the demand for hotel rooms in downtown reached 94 percent of 2019 levels.

"We're outpacing anything during the pandemic which is a great indicator,” said Sido. “These numbers are not yet at 100 percent across the board because that would mean we're exceeding all the pre-pandemic metrics. But we are outpacing the activity that we've had over the last two years."

Sido believes this current pace is helping give downtown businesses a resurgence.

"That help paint a picture of visitors and economic activity and really when you look at the visitor count, you're looking at largely what we hope are active dollars," said Sido.

Despite the rising metrics, DSA said July saw Seattle office workers returning to downtown at only about 40 percent of 2019 totals. However, they did say that's the highest since the start of the pandemic and are hopeful those numbers along with others will continue to rise.

"It's here, it's still here, it's back and we think that people really sort of rediscovered what they love about downtown, what they love about Seattle," said Sido.

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