Feb. 17, 2016—Tacoma, Washington —Visit Tacoma-Pierce County + Pierce County, the area’s official destination marketing organization, today announced that travel spending1 reached $1.09 billion in Pierce County in 2015, an annual increase of 3.9 percent, breaking the record set in 2014. Visitor spending2 marked its first billion-dollar year, reaching $1.01 billion, an annual increase of 6.3 percent. Non-transportation visitor spending rose 8.2 percent in 2015. This is often seen as a more reliable gauge of year-over-year economic impact, as it isn’t affected by fluctuations in fuel prices.

In total, Pierce County welcomed 5,942,000 visitors in 2015, a 7.0 percent increase from the previous year, according to the annual Pierce County Travel Impacts report compiled by Dean Runyan Associates. That includes 3,008,000 overnight visitors, an increase of 2.1 percent from 2014. Employment resulting from tourism was at its highest level since 2000, with the industry supporting 11,080 local jobs, up 1.6 percent from 2014.

“It was the perfect storm for Pierce County tourism in 2015,” said Bennish Brown, President + CEO of Visit Tacoma-Pierce County + Pierce County. “Six years of continual growth in tourism coincided with the U.S. Open golf championship being held in the University Place area, which slingshot us into the national spotlight. The tourism community rallied, and the county reaped the rewards.”

Within Pierce County, 45.4 percent of travel spending took place in Tacoma, which netted $494.4 million from tourism. The report detailed economic impact for nine separate break-out areas:

  • DuPont: $7.2 million in travel spending (0.7 percent of total Pierce County travel spending)
  • Fife: $76.1 million (7.0 percent of total)
  • Gig Harbor: $46.0 million (4.2 percent of total)
  • Lakewood: $93.2 million (8.5 percent of total)
  • Mount Rainier: $118.0 million (10.8 percent of total)
  • Puyallup: $104.3 million (9.6 percent of total)
  • Sumner: $32.4 million (3.0 percent of total)
  • Tacoma: $494.4 million (45.4 percent of total)
  • All other: $118.6 million (10.9 percent of total)
    • County total: $1,090.2 million

“The link between the tourism industry and economic prosperity in the region is undeniable,” Brown said. “Our world-class arts scene, the accessibility of Mt. Rainier and our quality venues like the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center bring visitors and meetings in, but without continually marketing Pierce County’s assets, you wouldn’t see this kind of economic impact.”

The full Pierce County Travel Impacts report is available at http://bit.ly/2015TourismImpacts.



1 Travel spending is the sum of visitor and other spending related to travel. Other spending includes spending by residents on ground and air transportation for the purpose of travel to other destinations and spending on travel arrangement services.

2 Visitor spending includes all spending on goods and services by visitors at the destination, including accommodation, food service, food stores, local transportation and fuel, arts, entertainment and recreation and retail sales. Also referred to as destination spending.