Visit Seattle experienced record-breaking tourism in 2018, with downtown Seattle hotel occupancies above 80 percent despite a 2,934-room increase with new hotel openings in 2018 and 2019. Meetings and conventions bookings peaked at 691,163 total room nights booked in 2018.
The Washington State Convention Center had a record year in business, as did Visit Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport and Norwegian Cruise Line, Seattle's Alaskan cruise business. Sea-Tac had a record-breaking passenger volume in 2018, with a 6.2 percent increase from the 49.8 million passengers in 2017. Additionally, Sea-Tac traffic grew 5.8 percent with service from 29 international destinations, making it the eighth busiest airport in the United States.
"Seattle is a vibrant and distinctive waterfront city with new developments breaking ground frequently," says Tom Norwalk, president and CEO of Visit Seattle. "It offers a compact, walkable and highly accessible downtown featuring an outstanding brand mix of world-class hotels, an award-winning culinary scene, flagship retail shopping, and vibrant arts and cultural institutions, all within steps of the Washington State Convention Center and its upcoming addition, Summit, opening in 2022."
Norwalk says Seattle's increase in tourism has had positive effects on the meetings and events industry, as it has encouraged growth in hotel inventory, award-winning restaurants, new cultural institutions and attractions, and more.
Based on the patterns of past years, Norwalk says Visit Seattle has been able to project how many meetings attendees will come to Seattle in future years. In 2019, it's projected that Seattle will see 475,000 meetings attendees, which is projected to increase to 620,000 by 2025.
"Seattle is one of the few cities that can offer the complete package of a major convention facility with hotels all located in the heart of a vibrant downtown," Norwalk says. "There is a wide variety of full-service and affordable hotel accommodation options." By the end of 2019, Norwalk says downtown Seattle will have 13,681 rooms, all within 13 blocks of the Washington State Convention Center.