Press Release


April 12, 2018

Media Contacts:

Kauilani Robinson, Visit Seattle
(206) 461-5839 |

Chantelle Lusebrink, Visit Seattle
(206) 461-5862 |

Seattle Sees Eighth Consecutive Year of Record Tourism

Results celebrated at the 2018 Annual Meeting on Global Meetings Industry Day

SEATTLE – Statistics released today show record visitor volume, expenditures, tax contributions and travel-related employment for Seattle and King County in 2017 for the eighth year in a row. The results were released by Visit Seattle at its 2018 Annual Meeting at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel April 12.

Visit Seattle President & CEO Tom Norwalk and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan welcomed more than 700 tourism and business professionals to the event held purposefully on Global Meetings Industry Day. Addresses were made by meetings industry thought-leader Michelle Mason, President and CEO of Association Forum and Robert Reid, National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad.

A total of 39.9 million visitors came to the city and county in 2017, up 2.6 percent from the previous year, according to the Visit Seattle report, which was created in conjunction with its national research firms, Tourism Economics and Longwoods International. Overnight visitors increased 3.9 percent to 20.8 million.

Those visitors spent $7.4 billion in the city and county in 2017 – an impressive increase of 5.6 percent from the previous year. When indirect and induced impacts of this direct spending are calculated, tourism in Seattle generated an estimated $10.7 billion total economic impact.

Visitors paid $762 million in state and local taxes in 2017, an increase of 6.2 percent from the previous year. Collectively, visitors paid $1.1 billion including federal taxes. These tax revenues offset the average annual household tax burden in the city and county by $916.

Tourism kept pace with overall job growth in the city and county in 2017, outpacing the state and U.S. There were 76,062 travel related jobs (up by 2.7 percent) in Seattle and King County. These jobs represent 5.6 percent of all employment in the county or one of every 18 jobs. About 31 percent of those jobs were related to food and beverage services, 20 percent were related to lodging, 15 percent were related to recreation and 9 percent were related to retail. Direct jobs paid $2.3 billion in income; when indirect and induced impacts were included, tourism generated $3.6 billion in labor income.

“We are extremely encouraged by these strong tourism statistics and the compound growth which has occurred over the past eight years,” Visit Seattle President & CEO Tom Norwalk said. “We have a vibrant city with much to offer domestic and international visitors and I am proud of the work that our team and our partners at Visit Seattle do to fulfill an important segment of our economy. By working together, we have come up with fresh and engaging ways to spark visitors’ desires to experience our city for themselves and we’ll continue to do that in 2018 and beyond.”

Some other trends in Seattle travel include the following:

  • International markets hold one of the destination’s most exciting growth opportunities. International visitors account for 7.1 percent of Seattle’s total visitor volume but represent 16.3 percent of total visitor spending, as they stay longer and spend more than domestic travelers. The spending of overseas visitors to Seattle grew another 1 percent over the course of the year – much of that from the 196,000 Chinese visitors who spent $236.7 million during their visits to Seattle.
    • In an effort to welcome these guests, Visit Seattle became the second U.S. city to launch a fully integrated modern city guide program on the popular Chinese social media platform, WeChat, April 10.
  • According to the Port of Seattle, SeaTac International Airport is ranked ninth in the U.S. by passenger volume with 46.9 million travelers. Of those, 11.1 percent of arrivals are from international points of origin. International passenger volumes grew 5.4 percent in 2017, including a 17.1 percent increase of inbound travel from Europe.
    • In 2017, additional inbound routes included four new international airlines; Virgin Atlantic to London-Heathrow, Norwegian to London-Gatwick, Eurowings to Cologne and Aeromexico to Mexico City.
    • Already in 2018, Air France has added direct service from Paris to Seattle and service by Thomas Cook from Manchester as well as service from Aer Lingus from Dublin are forthcoming.
  • Downtown Seattle hotel room demand continues to outpace supply, growing by 4.4 percent in 2017 while supply only grew by 3.5 percent. The result is stronger demand and rising prices for hotels. Overall, travelers spent $1.9 billion on lodging in Seattle during 2017.
    • In 2018, 2,431 new hotel rooms are slated to open; an increase of 20.5 percent from 2017.
  • Seattle continues to turn away more convention business than it can book due to date availability at the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC). Currently, WSCC is the smallest convention center of any major city on the West Coast. Development of an additional convention facility one block north, and in conjunction with the adjacent 1,260-room Hyatt Regency slated to open this fall, will improve Seattle’s competitive position. Construction on the new facility is expected to begin this summer with completion projected in 2021.

“We continue to be optimistic about the future for international and domestic tourism in Seattle,” Norwalk added. “However, we’re constantly reminded that travel and the tourism industry face ongoing political and economic challenges that remind us that national security and legitimate international travel are not mutually exclusive. We also know funding for regional infrastructure and capacity development, as well as finding sustainable solutions to Seattle’s homeless and street scene crisis, remain top priorities to ensure a future of sustainable growth in tourism.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine presented the 2018 Seattle Tourism Ambassador of the Year to four recipients. They are:

  • Ali Better – Server at Six Seven Restaurant at The Edgewater Hotel
  • Michael Embaye – Welcome Ambassador at W Seattle
  • Christian Bouchez – Visitor Services Manager at The Museum of Flight
  • Amanda Sullivan – Lead Server at Canlis

Press Materials & Dropbox

About Visit Seattle:
Visit Seattle, a private, nonprofit marketing organization, has served as Seattle/King County’s official destination marketing organization (DMO) for more than 50 years. The goal of these marketing efforts is to enhance the employment opportunities and economic prosperity of the region. For more information, visit






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