COLUMBUS, Ohio—The 2024 State of the Visitor Industry: First Quarter Report made available today by Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission shows a strong start to the year for Columbus’ travel economy on par with last year’s first quarter. Major national sporting events brought attention to Columbus and visitors were invited to enjoy spring break in Ohio’s capital through a new advertising campaign.  
From Jan. 1 through March 31, 2024, Columbus hosted a total of 84 conventions, trade shows and sporting events. The biggest event of the quarter—and a first for the city—kicked off the year with the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships held at Nationwide Arena in January. With 60,000 tickets sold, the event saw the highest attendance for a championship since 2018, which was an Olympic year, and brought in $8 million in direct visitor spending.

Sports was a major theme of the first quarter, with the city hosting NCAA DI Women’s March Madness First & Second Rounds at the Schottenstein Center and the NCAA DIII Women’s Basketball Championship at Capital University and the announcement that Columbus will welcome Manchester City vs. Chelsea at Ohio Stadium on Aug. 3. Preparations were also underway to host the U.S. Women’s National Team during the SheBelieves Cup in April. Hosting events like these was a big factor in Sports Business Journal’s ranking of Columbus a top 10 city for hosting sports events, which was announced in March. 
Other major conventions and events held in Columbus January through March included the International Sleep Products Association, which brought in 4,000 attendees and filled just over 5,000 rooms and had an estimated $3.5M in direct visitor spend. Ohio Music Education Association brought in 9,000 attendees from all over the state and filled roughly 2,500 rooms and had an estimated $3.6M in direct visitor spend. Another highlight was the Arnold Sports Festival, which brought in 100,000 attendees and had an estimated $15.6M in direct visitor spend. 

“It’s been a fantastic start to the year for Columbus with so much momentum building for our city as a result of numerous new accolades for our restaurants and attractions and national sporting events that we hosted,” said Experience Columbus President and CEO Brian Ross, ECI. “We were thrilled that USA Today 10Best named Columbus the third best beer city in the country and FYR, led by Chef Sebastian La Rocca, one of its 2024 Restaurants of the Year. Additionally, two Columbus chefs were recognized as James Beard Award semifinalists.” 

Columbus also launched its spring campaign in late February, inviting visitors to “Get a Spring Breakover” in Ohio’s capital. The paid advertising campaign flipped the script on what spring break can look like and how Columbus offers all you want from a big city trip without the costs, crowds and complications. Some of the insights from the campaign shared by Arrivalist, one of the leading location intelligence platforms in the travel industry, include that overall trip volume is up by more than 7% compared to this same time frame last year.  The share of daily trips and overnight trips has shifted positively as well, with those trips of four or more nights seeing a more than 100% increase. Finally, Ohio is still the largest visitation market by a large margin but huge increases were seen in Indiana and Virginia.  

From Jan. 1 to March 31, 2024, the STR report, which provides premium data benchmarking, analytics, and marketplace insights for the global hospitality industry, shows that all key performance metrics were comparable to the same period last year.   



% Change 

Average in competitive set 





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

Bed tax collections from Jan. 1 through March 31, 2024 totaled $9.9M, down 4% over the same period in 2023, according to reports from the Office of City of Columbus Auditor Megan Kilgore. 

“The U.S. Figure Skating Championships were a great way to begin one of the busiest and best sports calendars in Columbus history,” said Greater Columbus Sports Commission CEO and President Linda Logan. “The community really embraced this event, with fans showing up in big numbers and dozens of local organizations getting involved in fun and creative ways. The terrific sports facilities we have across the city will be busy this spring and summer with major events like the Savannah Bananas, USA Fencing Championships and what we’re calling the Summer of Soccer.” 

To view past Experience Columbus and Greater Columbus Sports Commission quarterly reports, visit  

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 49.6 million trips to Greater Columbus for conventions, trade shows, sporting events and leisure visits, spending $6.6 billion and supporting nearly 75,000 jobs. Columbus is proud to have hosted the 2023 U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in June 2023 and PCMA Convening Leaders 2023, which brought together the world's business events professionals in January 2023. 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. Since 2002, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission has brought nearly 600 new sporting events to Columbus, generating an estimated $625 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit


Media Contacts:  
Leah Berger, APR, ECI: | 614-222-6145 
Cameron Tirado, ECI: | 614-222-6146