New data show more visitors are staying longer in Columbus

COLUMBUS – More visitors are coming to Greater Columbus and choosing to stay longer, according to data from the industry-leading researchers at Longwoods International. In 2018, Greater Columbus welcomed 41.9 million day and overnight visitors, a 1.9% increase from the previous year. These visitors stayed for 2.4 nights on average, up from 2.2 nights in 2017.

“As the number of visitors grows, so does the impact they have on our local economy,” said Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. “We’re pleased to report that we’ve been successful in turning more day trips into overnight visits. This benefits our community because research shows that on average, an overnight visitor spends three times more money than a single-day visitor.”

Key highlights from the Longwoods International 2018 Columbus Travel Report

Size and Structure of Travel Market

  • 41.9 million day and overnight leisure visitors, sports and arts enthusiasts, convention attendees and business travelers visited Columbus in 2018. This is an increase of 1.9%, or 800,000 visitors over 2017 and remains on pace with U.S. growth in visitors
  • The number of overnight visits grew by 300,000 to 9.6 million, a 1.9% increase over 2017, keeping pace with overall growth in visitation. Daytrip visits grew by 500,000, a 1.9% increase over 2017
  • The average length of stay increased from 2.2 nights to 2.4 nights

Overnight Trip Characteristics:

  • The main purpose for an overnight trip to Columbus:
    • 47% visiting friends and relatives
    • 33% leisure visit, which includes attending a special event such as a concert, sporting event or festival
    • 16% business trip, which includes attending a meeting or convention
    • 3% business-leisure trip
  • The top five activities visitors experience in Columbus:
    • Shopping
    • Bar/Nightlife
    • Zoo
    • Culinary
    • Museums
  • Average party size visiting Columbus is 2.7 people
  • 68% of visitors are very satisfied with their overall trip experience
  • 83% of visitors have been to Columbus before, while 17% are first-time visitors

Visitor Demographics

  • 51% female, 49% male
  • Average age is between 25-54 years old
  • 48% have children in the household

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. The next economic impact report will be released in 2020 and will include updated direct visitor spend numbers, jobs and tax benefits data.


Experience Columbus is the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region, dedicated to growing visitor spending that is generated by conventions, meetings, trade shows and leisure visitors.  Annually, visitors make more than 41.9 million trips to Greater Columbus, spending $7 billion and supporting nearly 78,000 jobs. For more information, visit