From Choose Washington 2023-2024

Tourists Flock to the Pacific Northwest

A global sporting event is certain to bring even more visitors to Washington.

Salt Creek Recreation Area near Port Angeles, Peninsulas
Photo Courtesy of Jason Hummel Photography


ourism is big business in Washington, and it’s getting bigger. From Pike Place Market and the Space Needle in Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls and Ruby Beach, Washington boasts many of the most visited places on the continent.

According to State of Washington Tourism, visitor spending increased 24% in 2022 to $22.1 billion, while average visitor spending rose 16% to $216 per visitor last year.

Also in 2022, the total number of tourists climbed 7.3% to 102.2 million statewide. About 97.6% of all visitors were of domestic origin, according to SWT. The increase in both visitor traffic and spending spelled more money for state coffers, as state and local tax revenue derived from tourism jumped 19.6% from 2021 to $3.1 billion.

Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, commented on the new SWT report by stating that, “Given strong national travel demand and the example of proportionately higher tourism sector recovery in neighboring western states, Washington’s tourism industry has the potential to significantly grow economic impact through concerted and sustained marketing and development programs.”

One event that is bound to increase tourism to the state is the impending hosting of the men’s soccer World Cup competition in 2026. A recent report by Visit Seattle noted the state could see an economic impact of $100 million from hosting matches at Lumen Field. 


Visitor spending in Washington increased 24% in 2022 to $22.1 billion, while average visitor spending rose 16% to $216 per visitor.

Source: State of Washington Tourism


Visit Seattle estimates that 10,000 hotel rooms will be needed to accommodate soccer fans during the tournament. Remarkably, some 6,000 hotel rooms in and around Seattle have already been booked for the 2026 World Cup.

One thing that will help this influx of fans is an increasing number of nonstop daily flights. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport now offers direct flights to 28 international destinations. These include nonstop flights to Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tahiti, Belize, Cancun, Mexico City, Dublin, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Dubai and Istanbul.

The real beneficiaries of all these international flights are those who work in the tourism sector in Washington. In 2022, tourism generated 221,394 direct and indirect jobs in the state — a 10.5% increase from 2021. Direct jobs accounted for 145,305 of these positions, according to SWT. The largest employment segment came in the food and beverage sector, where 53,232 people worked in 2022. 

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


As the No. 1 state in the nation, Washington’s economic strengths continue to earn top honors and attract new investments.

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