• Seattle Celebrates Record-Breaking Tourism Season

    POSTED March 11, 2019
  • Seattle Celebrates Record-Breaking Tourism Season

    POSTED March 11, 2019

Seattle and King Country recently released results for Visit Seattle’s 2019 Annual Meeting. 2018 saw record visitor volume, expenditures, tax contributions and travel-related employment for Seattle and King County for the ninth year in a row.

Visit Seattle President and CEO Tom Norwalk and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan welcomed more than 700 business and tourism professionals to the annual event. Guest speakers included NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke, Sheraton Grand Seattle General Manager Keri Robinson, MMGY Global CEO Clayton Reid, and Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Brad Tilden. The meeting also included a musical performance by Seattle Singer-Songwriter Mary Lambert.

2018 estimates for topline metrics indicate that a total of 40.9 million visitors came to the city and county in 2018, up 2.5 percent from the previous year, according to the Visit Seattle report. The report was created in conjunction with its national research firms, Tourism Economics and Longwoods International. Overnight visitors increased 2.3 percent to 21.3 million.

Visitors spent $7.8 billion in the city and county in 2018—a significant increase of 5.8 percent from the previous year. Visitors paid $806 million in state and local taxes in 2018, an increase of 5.7 percent from the previous year.

Tourism related jobs also increased in the city and county in 2018, there were 78,400 travel related jobs (up by 3.1 percent) in Seattle and King County. The study’s final data will be released in early May.

“We are so encouraged by these strong 2018 statistics showing significant growth in Seattle and King County tourism,” Norwalk said. “Visit Seattle and our partners have worked very hard to create travel inspiration for our destination and of course, we love sharing our compelling Emerald City story around the world. Our city is poised for continued growth and for re-discovery by many visitors who may not have traveled here lately to experience the exciting changes taking place.”

Key accomplishments from the year include seven new hotels opened throughout downtown. That comes out to an additional 2,248 hotel rooms. While December tends to be the slowest month for tourism in Seattle, 2018 boasted the most rooms rented in that month in nearly 20 years.

2018 was a record-breaking year in the volume and quality of groups (meetings and conventions) traveling to Seattle and demonstrated the strongest economic impact by the hospitality industry for the region in 20 years. Throughout 2018, 50 national conventions were hosted at the Washington State Convention Center, making it the most successful year ever. Business booked through 2027 is expected to have an economic impact of $715 million.

Due to COVID-19, non-essential travel was, or has been, banned for months. Long anticipated trips and in-person gatherings were canceled and people have adjusted to the new normal: staying at home and meeting over Zoom. However, states have been slowly lifting restrictions, and non-essential travel will soon be happening across the country again. However, some may not be as comfortable with the thought of traveling as they were before the pandemic.  


Portland will be home to the first Ritz-Carlton in the Pacific Northwest. Developer BPM Real Estate Group is bringing the brand to the city, with an anticipated opening in early 2023. Plans call for a 35-story tower with 251 hotel rooms and 138 residential units, including eight penthouses.


Although several cities are opening up again, many offices are still enforcing work from home policies. As they did when Stay at Home first began, plenty of organizations are still offering webinars with insights on how to tackle the new normal. Gaining new knowledge is a great way to use extra time that might have been spent on a commute. 

Here at M+E, we’ll keep the following list updated, as some webinars are live and some are pre-recorded. Please email lauren.pahmeier@tigeroak.com to add more applicable webinars to the list.