The growth and impact of Columbus’ travel economy was the focus of TourismUS, Experience Columbus’ reimagined annual meeting held earlier today from 4-6 p.m. at the Columbus Museum of Art. Hundreds of travel and tourism industry professionals, Central Ohio business owners, community leaders and elected officials attended the event, which coincided with U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week
Several major announcements were shared by Experience Columbus President and CEO Brian Ross, ECI, including a new brand campaign—yes, Columbus. The campaign is the result of more than a year of research and market testing by Experience Columbus and its agency, Luquire. The campaign was created in partnership with the City of Columbus, Franklin County, One Columbus and Downtown Columbus, Inc. A teaser video was shown during the event and advertisements are underway in cities across the region inviting them to visit this summer. The campaign changed viewers’ opinions about Columbus during market testing and intrigued audiences to want to learn more about the 14th largest city in the country.  

“This new brand campaign is right for the moment we’re in and for the foreseeable future,” said Ross. “It was created in response to our perception study findings that showed while familiarity of Columbus is strong in Ohio, we’re not top of mind nationwide—only 13% of visitors outside of Ohio are very familiar with Columbus. This campaign aims to surprise visitors by sharing the amazing and sometimes unexpected accolades Columbus has been quietly stacking up in recent years. It’s time for Columbus to step out of the shadows of other major Midwest cities, and this bold and surprising campaign helps us do just that.”  

New visitation data from 2023 was also shared. According to research conducted by Longwoods International, Greater Columbus welcomed 51.2 million visitors—an all-time record—up from 49.6 million in 2022 and 42.7 million in 2021. The impact of those visitors is profound, according to another new report by Tourism Economics reflecting on last year. The study found that the travel economy supports 82,568 jobs in Columbus and Franklin County. Visitors directly spend $8.2 billion at local businesses, and they generate $1.63 billion in local, state and federal tax revenue, which supports local human services, economic development and the arts in Franklin County. 
Longwoods International’s research also shows that 80% of visitors come to Columbus on day trips while 20% stay overnight. The average visitor age of overnight visitors is 46, and 55% are female. Additionally, 84% are repeat visitors. The busiest travel season is April through June (27%) followed by July through September (26%). The top visitation drivers are seeing family and friends (52%), business-related travel (14%) and special events (12%). Once in Columbus, the top three things visitors are doing are: entertainment activities (46%), outdoor activities (32%) and cultural activities (23%).  
Several elected officials joined Experience Columbus for the event and the presentation of the 2023 Best of US Awards. The new awards program recognizes the stars of the hospitality industry who have helped champion tourism in Central Ohio during the past year. The following organizations, attractions and individuals were recognized:  

  • Trailblazer of the Year Award: Small Business Category: Stonewall Columbus, Inc. 

  • Trailblazer of the Year Award: Corporate Businesses & Attractions Category: The Junto 

  • Tourism Champion: Small Business Category: Historic Trolley District 

  • Tourism Champion: Corporate Businesses & Attractions Category: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium 

  • Experience Columbus Insider of the Year: Joe Kapferer 

To learn more about our 2023 Best of US Awards and to view our 2023 Annual Report video, 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 51.2 million trips to Greater Columbus for conventions, trade shows, sporting events and leisure visits, spending $8.2 billion and supporting more than 82,500 jobs. For more information, visit  


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