The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly tough on the tourism industry last year and now numbers are starting to come in showing how much.
Direct travel spending in Whatcom County was $174 million less in 2020 than it was in 2019, dropping 31.4%, according to data compiled by Tourism Economics and released by Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. By way of comparison, the $174 million that disappeared was more than all the sales at Whatcom County grocery stores in 2019, according to state Department of Revenue data.
Employment in the tourism industry was also dealt a big blow during the pandemic, dropping 44% compared to 2019, according to the report.
“The tourism sector has been hit horribly hard in the past 15 months, as this 2020 data indicates,” says Sandy Ward, CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, in the news release. “And that has repercussions throughout our economy. On the other hand, this industry’s capacity to drive millions in revenue and taxes even while we were down over 30%, shows its power.”
As Whatcom County and the rest of the state move toward a full reopening, however, tourism is expected to rebound, particularly outside of large metro areas, said Amy Guerra, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism’s marketing director.
“Traveler sentiment is strong in national studies, and people are looking to make up for missed vacations and family time,” Guerra said.
Read full feature article here: Here’s how much of a hit Whatcom’s tourism industry took from the COVID-19 pandemic