COLUMBUS, Ohio—Experience Columbus, the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region dedicated to growing visitor spending and enhancing the visitor experience, today announced new insights into the local visitor economy and the impact the pandemic has had on the Greater Columbus region.
The data, which reflects on 2021 and is the first study of its kind since 2019, was released to members of the Columbus hospitality community during Industry Day, a new event presented by Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission that took place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. A lineup of nationally recognized industry speakers, including Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics; Vail Ross, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing at STR; Cree Lawson, founder and CEO of Arrivalist; and Anna Blount, Vice President of Research Services at Longwoods International; provided insight into the current economic climate, national travel trends, hotel trends, traveler sentiment and more.
“Tourism is a vital part to the region’s economy,” said Experience Columbus President and CEO Brian Ross. “New data from 2021 shows that visitors directly spend $6.6 billion in Columbus annually, making 42.7 million trips to Greater Columbus for conventions, trade shows, sporting events and leisure visits, and supporting nearly 75,000 jobs. Additionally, bed tax collections support not only Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, but also the Greater Columbus Arts Council, nearly 40 health and human service organizations, the Affordable Housing Trust and Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority.
“While these numbers do reflect a decrease since 2019, this was anticipated due to the turmoil our industry has faced during the pandemic. This new data provides a snapshot of where we are as an industry. Given the data we are seeing so far this year for hotel occupancy, the number of conventions, trade shows and sporting events hosted and business booked for the future, we are optimistic that a strong recovery is underway.”
Key highlights from the new 2021 Tourism Impacts data:
Size and Structure of Travel Market:
- 42.7 million day and overnight leisure visitors, sports and arts enthusiasts, convention attendees and business travelers visited Columbus in 2021.
- This is a decrease of 0.7%, or 300,000 visitors over 2019.
- The number of overnight visits decreased by 1.3 million to 8.6 million, a 13% decrease from 2019.
- Daytrip visits grew by 900,000, a 2.7% increase over 2019.
- The average length of stay increased slightly from 2.4 nights in 2019 to 2.5 nights in 2021.
Overnight Trip Characteristics:
- The main purpose for an overnight trip to Columbus:
- 53% visiting friends and relatives
- 37% leisure visit, which includes attending a special event such as a concert, sporting event or festival
- 5% business trip, which includes attending a meeting or convention
- 5% business-leisure trip
- The top five activities visitors experience in Columbus:
- Attending a celebration
- The average party size visiting Columbus is 2.6 people
- 66% of visitors are very satisfied with their overall trip experience
- 80% of visitors have been to Columbus before
- 54% are female; 46% are male
- The average age is between 25-54 years old
- 48% have children in the household
Experience Columbus typically commissions a yearly visitor profile study from Longwoods International. The organization receives a biennial report on visitor economic impact from Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company focusing on the intersection of the economy and travel sector. This is the first report received since 2019.
Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission share quarterly insight into the visitor economy through their State of the Industry reports. To view those and other announcements, visit ExperienceColumbus.com/Media.
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 42.7 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 be selected as the host city for 2023 PCMA Convening Leaders, which brings together the world's business events professionals, and the 2023 U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting. For more information, visit ExperienceColumbus.com.
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 nearly 600 new sporting events to Columbus, generating an estimated $625 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit ColumbusSports.org.