Tourism all over Oregon saw a big jump in revenue last year, both from in-state and out-of-state visitors, according to a recent report released by Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism commission.
In 2019, tourism was a $12.8 billion industry in Oregon. In 2020, that dropped to $6.5 billion. Last year, tourism brought in $13.9 billion.
Todd Davidson, the CEO of Travel Oregon, was impressed with those numbers.
“Not only back to pre-pandemic, but a billion dollars ahead of pre-pandemic levels. That strength of that resiliency was a little bit of a surprise to me,” he said.
The biggest gain in tourism spending from 2021 to 2022 was in the Portland area, which brings in about 37% of all of the state’s tourism dollars. But the numbers are still low compared to before the pandemic. Nonetheless, Davidson remains bullish on Portland’s tourism future.
“There has been a reputational hit,” he acknowledged, but “Portland is still showing up on lists of places to go in 2023 … there’s still plenty of reason to be hopeful and optimistic for the future.”
Davidson pointed to recent conferences and events the city has secured, including the National Education Association conference and the 2030 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four.
One place where tourism spending took a hit: visitors from abroad. International tourism represented only 5% of total tourism spending last year, down from 12% typically.
“We’ve had strong visitation historically from Japan and Korea and China,” he said. Davidson expects an increase in the number of international visitors to Oregon when non-stop air service from those countries resumes.