By Sharon Linton
Those of us who stuck around Bellevue this summer enjoyed all our fair city has to offer. From stand-up paddle boarding on Lake Washington to reveling in the region’s finest arts and cultural offerings at events like BAM ARTSfair, we can all agree that Bellevue affords an incredible quality of life.
While enjoying these amenities, you may have noticed that, in addition to local residents, tourists – both leisure and business travelers – are becoming an increasingly frequent sight around town.Yet before you start grumbling about the badge-wearing group of conventioneers that may have caused a line at your neighborhood Starbucks, consider the impact these guidebook and camera-toting travelers have on our economy.
For two years, Visit Bellevue Washington has been working to promote convention and leisure tourism in Bellevue. The organization launched in 2011, the same year that Legislature closed the tourism office, leaving Washington as the only state in the country with no statewide tourism office or marketing budget. This made it more important than ever to make sure that our thriving city – and all of its amenities for leisure and group visitors – had the opportunity to market itself.
We have many booming industries, including technology and real estate, so why is tourism important to Bellevue residents?
Tourists spend money – $621 million in 2012 to be exact. Last year, our city hosted 1.3 million visitors who shopped at The Bellevue Collection, dined at The Bravern, stayed in our hotels and supported city gems like The Bellevue Art Museum and The Bellevue Botanical Garden. These visitors pay taxes that offset money Bellevue residents would otherwise pay in taxes.
There is strong evidence that increasing visitors in a market in turn leads to an increase in the overall desirability of the destination as a place to meet, live, work, and locate businesses.
In 2012 total employment directly generated by visitors was 9,759 jobs and $337 million in wages. With more jobs, we see small business owners setting up shop in Bellevue. In the past six months, Bellevue has welcomed several new businesses including Seattle Coffee Gear, Salt Mine Arium, Cactus Restaurant, and many more.
Our local hoteliers also feel the impact. According to PKF Hospitality Research’s March-May 2013 Edition, hotel occupancy in Bellevue was up 4.5 percent at 72 percent with the average daily rate up 5.1 percent at $136.
As Bellevue continues to grow, we invite you to keep the momentum going. Bring out-of-town guests to the Bellevue Farmers Market, try biking the Lake-to-Lake Trail with a friend, or simply say hello to the next person who looks like they might be new to the city. Share all that we love about Bellevue with houseguests and friends. Because, as we’ve seen, tourism does matter.
Tourism by the numbers
Overnight visitors — 1.3 million
Visitor spending — $621 million
Jobs generated by tourism — 9,759
Hotel occupancy — 72%
Taxes paid by visitors — $57 million
Sharon Linton is marketing and communications manager at Visit Bellevue Washington, the city’s official destination marketing organization. For more information and a complete listing of upcoming events, lodging and city information visit visitbellevuewashington.com.