More visitors spent more, paid more taxes and created more jobs than ever before

May 15, 2019—Tacoma, Washington —Travel Tacoma + Pierce County and Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission today announced reports from Dean Runyan Associates and STR, Inc. showing that Pierce County’s tourism and hotel industries both hit all-time records in 2018, putting more money into Pierce County’s economy than ever before.

Tourism and Taxes

In 2018, 3.35 million visitors stayed overnight in Pierce County, staying a record 1.57 million room-nights and dropping a record $1.19 billion of direct spending into the Pierce County economy.

This includes leisure visitors, as well as those arriving in Pierce County for conferences or as participants and spectators for sporting events. According to Dean Runyan Associates’ Travel Impacts Report on tourism in Pierce County, overall travel spending – which includes what residents spent on travel – also increased, reaching $1.30 billion in 2018, up from $1.22 billion in 2017.

Highlights from the 2018 Travel Impacts Report

  • Overnight visitors to Pierce County totaled 3.35 million (+2.5% year over year), a record high.
  • Travel spending reached $1.30 billion (+6.4% year over year) in Pierce County, a record high.
  • Tourism supported 12,580 (+3.1% year over year) jobs in Pierce County, a record high.
  • Visitor spending reached $1.19 billion (+6.0% year over year) in Pierce County, a record high.
  • Tourism earnings reached $370 million (+9.5% year over year) in Pierce County, a record high.
  • Total taxes generated by tourism reached $132.9 million (+4.4% year over year), a record high.

“We’ve got a cluster of unique cities filled with art, culture and history situated between a glacial mountain and accessible saltwater shoreline, and the word is getting out about it,” said Dean Burke, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma + Pierce County and Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission.

“Everyone in Tacoma and Pierce County should love visitors as much as we do at Travel Tacoma. They show up, have a great time doing the same things we like to do, and then they leave with a memorable experience while making meaningful contributions to our local economy.”


Echoing the trajectory of Pierce County tourism, the county’s hotel industry also reported historic highs, according to the STR Destination Report, which has tracked major hotel metrics in the county since 2008.

Bolstered by a 4.9 percent increase in demand, hotels throughout the county stayed fuller than ever before, averaging 71.4 percent occupancy throughout the year, beating the national average of 66.2 percent. During the peak summer season (June – August), hotels saw 82.7 percent occupancy, and during major events and concerts, hotels throughout Tacoma were booked to capacity.

The increased demand has spurred a surge of development in the Pierce County hotel community to support the influx of visitors. Eight hotel projects are currently underway or recently opened throughout the county, representing 1,045 rooms being added in 2019 and 2020, a 17.1 percent increase in hotel room inventory in that two-year period.

Highlights from the 2018 STR Destination Report

  • A record 1,568,238 room-nights were sold in Pierce County hotels (+4.9%).
  • Hotel occupancy was at a Pierce County record 71.4% (+1.85%).
  • Average daily room rate reached a Pierce County record $103.33 (+2.7%).
  • Revenue per available room, a metric often used in the industry, measured a Pierce County record of $73.74 (+4.6%).
  • Overall hotel revenue climbed to a Pierce County record $162 million (+7.7%).

A Decade of Destination Data

A decade of data from STR Destination Reports and Dean Runyan Associates gives some insight into how far Pierce County has evolved as a destination since 2008. This is what a destination on the rise looks like, by the numbers.

Compared to 2008:

  • Visitors are spending more money (+45.9%) while they’re here.
  • Which means they’re creating more jobs (+13.5%) and paying more taxes (+55.3%).
  • Hotel occupancy rates have jumped (+18.4%).
  • As the appeal of the destination has increased, so too has the average rate a visitor can expect to pay for a hotel room (+16.8%).



Travel Tacoma + Pierce County is the official destination marketing organization for Tacoma + Pierce County, Washington. Accredited by Destination Marketing Association International. For more information, visit

For More Information Contact:
Matt Wakefield
Sr. Communications Manager
[253] 284-3253 office
[206] 412-5080 cell