The resiliency of the tourism industry and the future of travel has been celebrated throughout May during U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week, the 2022 Experience Columbus Annual Meeting and Ohio Tourism Day. Now, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission have released their first quarter 2022 State of the Industry Report, which sheds light on the strong recovery and growth of the industry during the first three months of the year and upcoming initiatives to bring more visitation throughout the summer. 
During the first quarter of 2022, Columbus hosted a total of 63 conventions, trade shows and sporting events, up from 27 during the same timeframe last year. While business travel has been slower to recover compared to the leisure market, the first quarter brought the return of meetings and conventions to Columbus. The Arnold Sports Festival, one of the largest tourism events in central Ohio, was the first event impacted at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and was the first event to return to full capacity this year. Other top events hosted in the first quarter included the 2022 OHSAA Boys State Wrestling Championships, which welcomed 48,455 attendees, and the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup Qualifier featuring USA vs. El Salvador, with 20,000 attendees. UFC returned to Columbus for the first time in 13 years on March 28 and broke a record for the highest-grossing UFC Fight Night in history with 18,630 fans totaling $1.92 million in gate receipts. Additionally, Columbus welcomed the NCAA Bowling Championship in April, which was the third NCAA Championship the city has hosted in 12 months. 

“We are thrilled to see the return of conventions, trade shows and sporting events to Columbus,” said Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. “With six citywides held in the first quarter and 82 events, including five citywides, booked for the future, it’s clear that the strong recovery we hoped for and anticipated is underway. The first quarter also brought the return of employees downtown as many companies, including Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, resumed in-person and hybrid work schedules. This vibrancy is a vital part of creating a welcoming environment for groups visiting Columbus.”

From Jan. 1 to March 31, 2022, the STR report shows that all key performance metrics increased year over year. In terms of average daily rate, Columbus is below other Ohio cities at $99.71, with Cleveland at $110.34 and Cincinnati at $104.92. 



% Change 

Average in competitive set 





Average Daily Rate (ADR):  









* RevPAR is a hotel industry performance metric, which is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s ADR by its occupancy rate. 
Year-to-date bed tax collections through March 31 totaled $8.3 million, up 104%, or approximately $4.2 million, over the same period the year prior, according to reports from the Office of City of Columbus Auditor Megan Kilgore. These funds support not only Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, but also cultural and arts programs, social services, affordable housing programs and the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority. 
Looking ahead, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission booked future business accounting for 54,962 room nights.

“We got off to a great start to begin 2022 with a return visit from the Ohio Valley Region of USA Volleyball and a FIFA Men’s World Cup Qualifier featuring the U.S. vs. El Salvador in January,” said Linda Logan, Greater Columbus Sports Commission CEO & president. “As the quarter rolled on, we also welcomed huge crowds at the OHSAA Boys Wrestling Championships at the Schottenstein Center and UFC at Nationwide Arena. Having two indoor arenas capable of hosting major events is one of the things that makes Columbus a great sports city.” 

The Sports Commission is celebrating its 20th anniversary as well as the 50th anniversary of Title IX with a series of events and content. On June 22, the Starting IX-up podcast launches. The iHeart production features women’s sports stories with a local connection. Later that week, on June 25-26, they’ll debut a 20th Anniversary Special, produced by Sinclair, on ABC6 and FOX28.  
Looking ahead to leisure travel during the summer months and beyond, the industry is optimistic. According to the Longwoods International Travel Sentiment Study, Wave 60, 92% of Americans have plans to travel in the next six months. While a record low 19% of American travelers say that fear of COVID-19 will greatly impact their decision to travel in the next six months, travelers are facing a new concern—rising gas prices. Thirty-seven percent of American travelers say rising gas prices will greatly impact their decision to travel in the next six months, with many adjusting their plans to choose destinations closer to home or driving instead of flying.  
Columbus is well positioned for the rise in road trips as the city is a one-day's drive from more than half of the U.S. population. Visitors seeking a drivable destination will find Columbus to be an easy and affordable getaway. To encourage travelers to consider Columbus for their summer trips, the destination marketing organization has an anthem of “Long. Live. Summer!” On May 26, visitors and residents will find inspiration from some of Columbus’ most famous residents. They’ll share why they chose Columbus to be their home and headquarters to their companies, how Columbus has supported them and what they love most about the city. A new video series and itineraries following the notables’ perfect day in Columbus will be shared here.

“This summer will be unlike any other in Columbus as we celebrate the return of festival season for the first time since the pandemic began,” said Sarah Townes, Experience Columbus chief marketing and innovation officer. “Whether you’re planning a family road trip, a friends’ getaway or a solo adventure, you’ll find itinerary inspiration thanks to our summer ambassadors’ insider’s guide to Columbus.” 

About Experience Columbus 
Experience Columbus is the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region, dedicated to growing visitor spending and enhancing the visitor experience. Annually, visitors make 43 million trips to Greater Columbus for conventions, trade shows, sporting events and leisure visits, spending $7.6 billion and supporting nearly 78,600 jobs. For more information, visit   
About the Greater Columbus Sports Commission 
The Greater Columbus Sports Commission’s mission is to rally Columbus to compete and win sporting events, providing a singular athlete and fan experience and positively impacting image, economy and lifestyle. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission has brought 550 new sporting events to Columbus, generating an estimated $625 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit  

Media Contacts
Leah Berger, APR, CTA: | 614-222-6145