Tourism has been a constant and increasing economic driver in Snohomish County, a new report showing a 4.3 percent increase in visitor spending from 2010 to 2017.

Dean Runyan Associates released its Washington State Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume report in April. The report was commissioned by the Washington Tourism Alliance.

Total visitor spending in 2017 was $1.11 billion in Snohomish County, up 6.2 percent over 2016, according to the report.

Food service spending was the highest in terms of measured commodities at $347.5 million in 2017, compared to $237.1 million in 2010.

Visitors spent $154.1 million on accommodations in 2017, and $162 million on local transportation and gas, according to the report.

The largest percentage of overnight visitors was people staying in private residences.

Those staying in hotels and motels spent an average of $178 per day per person for lodging in 2017, while a travel party (2.1 people) spent $371 per day on average.

Snohomish County weathered the 2008 recession better than many Washington counties, and much better than many popular destination spots around the country, said Amy Spain, executive director of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau, partly because travel costs remained relatively affordable.

As the economy has improved, so has tourism in Snohomish County. For residents looking to save money, Spain said there are a number of staycation options.

“We all deserve our summer vacation, we all deserve our spring break,” she said, “we all deserve that travel.”

The Snohomish County Tourism Bureau has 10 staff members, including Spain, she said, to create visitor services programs and advertise the county as a tourist destination in Pacific Northwest states and British Columbia.

Five staff members are tasked with drawing in events to Snohomish County, such as sports competitions, weddings and conventions.

The Washington Legislature removed all funding for the statewide marketing program in 2011, but brought it back just this year, Spain said, “which will extend our reach dramatically.”

While losing that funding for the past seven years was a big hit, Spain said destination marketing organizations (DMOs) across the state work well together.

“Those DMOs across the state, we have collaborated with and partnered with for a number of different projects,” she said.

Visit Seattle has essentially operated as a state tourism agency for years, Spain said, directing people to other parts of Washington depending on their interests.

“This is huge for us to get a state marketing authority back,” she said.

Statewide travel spending was up 7 percent — 5.8 percent when adjusted for inflation — in 2017, according to the report produced by Dean Runyan Associates, and travel-generated employment increased by 2.8 percent; the seventh consecutive year of employment growth.

Dean Runyan Associates Annual Travel Impact Report by branax2000 on Scribd