Annual report from Dean Runyan Associates details a continued economic impact from the growing tourism industry

SEATTLE, Wash. (March 5, 2018) – The Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority (RTA), the official destination marketing organization for Seattle Southside, including the cities of Des Moines, SeaTac, and Tukwila, reports that the impact of travel to the area is increasingly positive, with tourists spending $726.6 million in 2017—an increase of 4.8 percent over 2016 spending.

The annual study, compiled by research firm Dean Runyan Associates, shows the economic significance of the travel industry to the Seattle Southside area, local and state tax receipts and tourism employment. This is the seventh consecutive year of strong growth in the Seattle Southside travel industry.

“We are thrilled to report that the increased funding delivered through the Tourism Promotion Area (TPA) allows us to market the destination and has provided continual positive economic impact in Seattle Southside through a strategic investment in tourism,” said Katherine Kertzman, president and CEO of the Seattle Southside RTA. “Smith Travel Research shows that hotel demand is up by 4 percent, making Seattle Southside and the region well positioned for continued growth.”

This report shows how the travel industry is a key contributor to the economic well-being of the region, with 4,990 people employed by the tourism industry in Seattle Southside and $75.4 million generated in local and state tax receipts. These tax revenues help to fund jobs and public programs such as police, firefighters, teachers and road projects. According to the U.S. Travel Association, each U.S. household would pay $1,250 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry.

As the fourth-largest industry in Washington State, tourism supports small businesses, strengthens local economies, creates jobs and brings in additional tax revenues.

View the complete Dean Runyan Travel Impacts Report for 2017. Highlights from the report include the following:

  • Travel spending in Seattle Southside increased by 4.8 percent from 2016 to 2017 (preliminary).
  • Earnings and travel-generated tax receipts continue to increase.
  • The overall trend in visitor volume corresponds to trends in travel spending.
  • Lodging sales continue to increase; they were $265 million in 2017, an increase of 5.7 percent over 2016.
  • More than 80 percent of all visitor nights in Seattle Southside are attributable to hotel/motel stays. This percentage is much greater than for hotel/motel stays in King County and Washington State overall.
  • Tukwila has the greatest estimated visitor spending, and SeaTac has almost 70 percent of all lodging sales, making the regional partnership key to the economic well-being of the region.
  • Visitor air arrivals (domestic only) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport also increased for the seventh year in a row.
  • In 2017, the Seattle Southside RTA experienced $193 million in visitor spending for each dollar spent. The 2017 ROI will be reported at the Seattle Southside Tourism Symposium. See below for details.

The industry will gather for the 2018 Tourism Symposium on Thursday, March 29, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at the Hilton Conference Center in SeaTac. The Seattle Southside RTA will discuss the progress the region has made in the tourism industry over the past year and how they’re going to make 2018 even better. The Seattle Southside RTA will celebrate the tourism success of the past year with its keynote speaker, renowned travel writer Rick Steves, as he shares his experience visiting extraordinary places around the world and building a global community through travel. Registration is now open.

The Seattle Southside TPA was established in October 2014 and in 2015 the Seattle Southside RTA, a public corporation and separate legal entity that manages increased funding and tourism promotion activities for the cities of Des Moines, SeaTac and Tukwila was launched. The boundaries of the three cities make up the TPA.

About the Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority

The Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority (RTA) is the official destination marketing organization for Seattle Southside. The organization is responsible for competitively marketing the area as an ideal travel destination for leisure and business travelers who wish to explore Western Washington and an idyllic place for meeting and event planners to hold their functions. The Seattle Southside RTA is funded by a self-assessed hotel fund and supported by a lodging tax from the cities of SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines. For more information, please visit or call 877.885.9452.



Althea Conyers Achem

Public Relations, GreenRubino for Seattle Southside

P: 206.452.8178