Number of visitors increases and hotel industry thrives

COLUMBUS – Today, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission released their mid-year 2017 State of the Industry Report. During the first half of 2017, the travel and tourism industry continued to grow, with occupancy, average daily rate and RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) up over the same time frame in 2016. Additionally, a study by Longwoods International, a leading destination research firm, confirmed that the number of travelers to Greater Columbus has grown.

According to Longwoods International, Columbus’ visitor volume grew from 39.3 million visitors in 2015 to 39.9 million in 2016, an increase of 1.5 percent, which is greater than the national increase of 1.1 percent. Of the total number of visitors, 9.1 million were overnight trips and 30.8 million were day trips.

According to the STR Report, from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2017, all industry key performance indicators (KPI) increased over the same time period in 2016.



% change

Average in competitive set





Average Daily Rate









* RevPAR is a hotel industry performance metric, which is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s ADR by its occupancy rate

“As more visitors come to our destination for a meeting, convention, sporting event or leisure trip, our community’s goal is to continually exceed their expectations,” said Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done to ensure a positive visitor experience, as evidenced by a J.D. Power award ranking Columbus ‘Highest in Visitor Satisfaction in the Midwest’ and the Longwoods International report, which indicated over 68 percent of visitors are very satisfied with their overall trip experience in Columbus.”

During the second quarter of 2017, Columbus hosted a total of 195 conventions, sporting events and groups, including nine citywide events. The American Society for Engineering Education welcomed over 4,000 attendees for their Annual Conference & Exposition; the Society of American Military Engineers brought in 2,500 delegates; Christian and Missionary Alliance hosted their 2017 General Council with 3,500 people; and the Junior Volleyball Association had 7,500 athletes and spectators.

“Our second quarter was highlighted by Columbus landing 12 NCAA championships for 2019-2022, representing close to 14,000 hotel room nights,” said Linda Logan, Greater Columbus Sports Commission executive director. “The city also hosted national sporting events this spring including the NIRSA Basketball Championships and USA Track & Field Half Marathon Championships, all for the second consecutive year, along with the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship.”

Looking ahead, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission booked future business during the second quarter accounting for 114,549 room nights. Citywide groups include the National Association of College and University Attorneys for 2020, Arnold Sports Festival & Fitness Weekend for 2020 and American Cheer Power in 2018. 

As a result of the increase in daily rates, hotel/motel bed tax collections increased 5.44 percent YTD or $1.1 million as of June 30, with collections totaling nearly $21 million, according to reports from the Office of City of Columbus Auditor Hugh J. Dorrian. These funds support not only Experience Columbus, but also cultural and arts programs, social services, affordable housing programs and the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority.


Experience Columbus is the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region, dedicated to growing visitor spending and enhancing the visitor experience. In 2016, Columbus was ranked “Highest in Visitor Satisfaction in the Midwest” by J.D. Power in the 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction StudySM.  Annually, visitors make more than 39.9 million trips to Greater Columbus for conventions, tradeshows, sporting events and leisure visits, spending $6.4 billion generating $9.7 billion in economic impact and supporting nearly 75,000 jobs. For more information, visit