Some encouraging signs are emerging for the hospitality and tourism sector, where the recession took a major bite out of discretionary spending.
New data compiled by the bizjournals.com On the Numbers site shows that 15 states and the District of Columbia have regained the jobs – and then some – that they lost in their leisure and hospitality sector when the economy cratered in 2008, and many more states are close to making up the jobs they lost in that period.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, tourism and hospitality generated an economic impact of $1.8 trillion in 2010, with $759 billion spent directly by domestic and international travelers. The industry supports 14 million jobs including 7.4 million directly in the travel industry.
Intertwined with the economic benefits of tourism are opportunities to showcase quality of place attributes that give visitors a sense of the recreation, natural attraction, cultural and other livability features. Visitors are bringing their dollars and leaving with their impressions of what it might be like to live in a certain place.
Texas added more than 79,000 jobs in its tourism sector since 2008. Other big gainers include New York (65,000), Pennsylvania (12,000), Washington D.C. (5,800) and Louisiana (5,000). Unfortunately, the pace has been slower in some visitor-heavy states with well-developed tourism and hospitality industries. Florida is still down more than 28,000 jobs and California is down more than 30,000 jobs in the sector from 2008.
A number of states have made tourism and hospitality a key focus of their economic development efforts. In Kentucky, a new campaign is touting the state’s unique attractions, from the Bourbon Trail to Churchill Downs to the birthplace of Bluegrass music.
The Kansas tourism and hospitality sector has seen a modest gain in jobs since 2008, which is significant given the sector’s importance to the state’s economy. Natural attractions like the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, family oriented draws like the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson and historic centers such as Doge City in western Kansas created a $5.5 billion impact on the state’s economy and a payroll of more than $2.6 billion.
Wyoming’s attractions are a major focus of its effort to draw more people to the state to live – and maybe bring their company with them. The Work Where You Want to Live motto leans heavily on the state’s recreation and culture opportunities, from world-class skiing to white-water rafting to hiking to fishing.
What role does tourism and hospitality play in your economic development strategy? What value do you place on job creation in that sector? How do you see the relationship between a healthy tourism sector and quality of place? Share your thoughts.