New numbers released by Dean Runyan Associates show that 2019 was Oregon’s tenth consecutive year of growth in travel-spending and visitation. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the travel and tourism industry to a screeching halt, these numbers indicate that travel and tourism will be a crucial part of the state’s economic recovery. Oregon’s tourism industry plays an integral role in the state’s economy. Since 2008, the industry has shown steady growth in earnings and employment, ranking second after agriculture and food. In terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) the industry is one of the three largest export-oriented industries in rural Oregon counties (the other two being agriculture/food processing and logging/wood products).
- Total direct travel spending was $12.8 billion, a 3.6% increase over 2018.
- Total travel-generated employment was 117,500, a 1.4% increase over 2018.
- Employee earnings were $3.8 billion, a 6% increase over 2018.
- The GDP of Oregon’s travel industry was $5.8 billion.
These numbers reflect the impacts generated by the tourism industry prior to COVID-19. Economic impact numbers for 2020 will likely be drastically different.
“Every year we look forward to the release of Dean Runyan’s economic impact report – seeing year-over-year growth really demonstrates the power and economic importance of the tourism industry to Oregon’s economy,” said Todd Davidson. “This year’s report was bittersweet. Although in 2019 we witnessed our tenth consecutive year of growth, we know that our state is in an economic crisis due to COVID-19. Travel Oregon’s specialized economic development strategies not only inspire visitation to Oregon, but also introduce visitors to Oregon products during their visit and when they return home. This essential work will prove even more vital when people are ready to travel again.”
The findings from this economic impact report come right before National Travel and Tourism Week (May 3-9), a program from the U.S. Travel Association that honors the spirit of travel in recognition of the industry’s strength, selflessness and resiliency.