A new economic impact report released by the Oregon Tourism Commission shows continuous growth in the state’s tourism industry. Visitation and spending increased for the ninth consecutive year in 2018.
Travel spending in the state was $12.3 billion in 2018 — a 4.2% increase from 2017. The report estimates that more than 29 million overnight visitors came to Oregon last year.
Oregon also saw an increase in the number of overnight visitors and travel-generated employment.
“We’ve been coming back quite robustly from the great recession of 2008 and 2009,” said Todd Davidson, Travel Oregon’s CEO.
As for particular regions of the state, the Portland area saw the most overnight visitors last year with 26.6 million visits from single travelers and 13.1 million visits from traveling groups. The Willamette Valley came in second followed by the Oregon Coast.
Mount Hood and the Gorge saw the least number of overnight visitors last year with 3.5 million single travelers and 1.4 million traveling groups.
Davidson said he found it encouraging that tourism growth is occurring throughout the state, not only in specific spots.
“The benefits of the visitor industry are being felt statewide,” he said. “As tourism has grown in Oregon roughly 4% year over year, we were seeing similar rates of growth in regions throughout the state.”
Travel-generated employment in Oregon was also high last year. There were more than 115,000 employees hired in travel-related jobs such as accommodation and food services, retail and transportation. That’s an almost 3% increase from 2017.
A number of factors point to Oregon’s tourism industry continuing to grow over the years, Davidson said, including increased visitation and spending from international travelers.
“Our growth in international spending is outpacing the national average rate of growth for last year nearly four-to-one,” he said.
“The nation grew about 1-1.2% and we grew nearly 5% in international visitor spending.”
Davidson said he also expects the International Association of Athletics Federation’s World Championships, being hosted in Eugene in 2021, to draw in tourists.
“It’s going to be Oregon’s opportunity to be showcased on a global stage,” he said. “We’ll have competitors here from over 200 different countries.”