Increases in visits, visitor spend, and jobs supported highlight importance of jumpstarting tourism economy amidst COVID-19

COLUMBUS – Throughout 2019 the Greater Columbus tourism economy continued to grow, seeing increases in number of visitors, amount of money spent and jobs supported. Today, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission released data from an extensive study on the impact of the tourism and hospitality industry in Columbus and Franklin County.

According to industry-leading researchers at Oxford Economics and Longwoods International, in 2019:

  • Greater Columbus welcomed 43 million day and overnight leisure visitors, sports fans, convention attendees and business travelers. This is an increase of 2.7% or 1.1 million visitors over 2018.
  • The number of overnight visits grew by 300,000 to 9.9 million – a 3% increase over 2018. On average, an overnight visitor will spend three times more than a single day visitor. Daytrip visits grew by 900,000 – a 2.6% increase over 2018.
  • Visitors spent $7.6 billion in Greater Columbus – an 8.6% increase from 2017.
  • Businesses serving the visitor industry support 78,600 jobs in Columbus and Franklin County – a 0.8% increase from 2017 – while industry wages increased 8%. Tourism continues to support one in every 12 jobs in Franklin County.
  • Visitors to Franklin County generated $1.35 billion in local, state and federal tax revenue, which provides $2,599 in annual tax savings to county residents.

The top five industry sectors benefitting from visitor spending include: Retail, Food and Beverage, Transportation, Entertainment, and Lodging.


% of Tourism Sales

$ Amount

# of Jobs



$2.3 billion


Food & Beverage


$1.8 billion




$1.3 billion




$1.1 billion




$989 million



Experience Columbus 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. Find out more about the full economic impact of the tourism industry here.

“It’s clear that visitors have significant impact on our local economy,” said Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. “The money spent by convention attendees, sports fans and leisure visitors at local businesses contributes to our city’s economic prosperity and residents’ quality of life by increasing direct spend, job creation and tax revenue. These numbers underscore the importance of safely reopening our community so we can begin welcoming back visitors so vital to our city’s welfare.”

While COVID-19 has had devastating effects on the tourism economy, Experience Columbus launched the Live Forward campaign in May to help rebuild the tourism economy. As health and safety continues to be a priority for travelers, nearly 200 businesses have taken the Live Forward Pledge, committing to follow measures outlined by local, state and federal health authorities while operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested in learning more about the Power of Tourism in Columbus? Join Experience Columbus and Easton virtually on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 11:30 a.m. for an open discussion on the how tourism impacts our local economy and how Experience Columbus and Easton are marketing Columbus as a destination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists will include Sarah Townes, vice president of marketing, Experience Columbus; Kari Kauffman, vice president of tourism, Experience Columbus; and Jennifer Peterson, chief executive, Easton. Keiana Mitchell, partnerships manager at Experience Columbus will moderate. Register here.


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 78,600 jobs. For more information, visit