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VisitPittsburgh reports record economic impact for Pittsburgh area in 2023

By Alexandra Todd

Updated on: March 28, 2024 / 9:13 PM EDT / CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pittsburgh-area and Pennsylvania leaders say that tourism in Allegheny County is bouncing back. 

VisitPittsburgh held its annual meeting on Wednesday and shared data that the area raked in more than $6.4 billion in 2023.

"What an incredible year for Allegheny County's tourism industry," said Jerad Bachar, president & CEO of VisitPittsburgh. "These landmark gains have been years in the making and represent the collective resilience and collaboration found across all sectors of the industry. From hoteliers, restaurants and attractions to leisure, business and sports events, our tourism community has pulled together for another year of growth."

We're now at an all-time high for visitors coming to the city since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020.

"It's no doubt that 2023 was a record year for recovery, and our industry has incredible momentum for what's on the horizon in 2024," Bachar added. "From the continued rollout of our 10-year Tourism Development Plan to new events and major partner anniversaries, 2024 has a solid foundation for continued growth, development and lasting success."

VisitPittsburgh says the revenue coming to the area stems from sporting events as well as professional conferences and cultural phenomenons like Anthron, which is held annually at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Officials said 228 different events being held led to over 313,000 hotel rooms booked. 

They also said that that they believe that tourism will continue to rise in 2024 and is expected to create 2,000 more jobs in the industry by the end of the year. 

"We've seen a big uptick thanks to people from out of town," Matt Zelinsky, operations director at Novo Asian Food Hall, told KDKA-TV. "Pittsburgh is getting a great reputation as a great place to visit."

Tourists told KDKA-TV that there's always something to do or go and see in the Steel City. Pittsburgh is known as a sports, events and concert town, but nationally recognized museums and exhibits offer something for everyone.

"I love to come down and visit our daughter," visitor Kim Ohr said. "I feel like the city is alive and it's just fun and booming. It's fun to see everybody walking and exercising and all the dogs."

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pittsburgh tourism statistics

Pittsburgh’s Tourism Sector Reports Strong Growth

Economic impact from 20 million visitors topped $6 billion.

By Matt Neistein

Published April 8, 2024

Read Time: 2 mins

A couple of weeks after Pittsburgh International Airport reported it was finally meeting — and surpassing — 2019 travel levels, VisitPITTSBURGH announced tourism in the region is nearly there as well.

More than 20 million visitors came to Allegheny County in 2023, creating an economic impact of $6.4 billion, the agency said. That is just shy of the $6.5 billion impact the agency reported in 2019.

However, year-over-year growth remains strong, with a 6.1 percent increase in visitor spending and comparable increases in tax revenue and wages in the tourism sector.

The agency forecasts $6.7 billion in tourism spending in 2024, with the local tourism sector anticipating a gain of nearly 2,000 jobs, to a total of more than 41,000 total jobs, by year-end.

The region’s largest tourism agency made the announcement at its annual meeting on Wednesday, where hundreds of civic and business leaders, including Gov. Josh Shapiro, gathered for an update on the community’s rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What an incredible year for Allegheny County’s tourism industry,” said Jerad Bachar, VisitPITTSBURGH’s president and CEO. “These landmark gains have been years in the making and represent the collective resilience and collaboration found across all sectors of the industry. From hoteliers, restaurants and attractions to leisure, business and sports events, our tourism community has pulled together for another year of growth.”

The annual meeting came a week after the city hosted games for the first two rounds of the NCAA’s March Madness college basketball tournament that drew thousands of fans and an estimated $10 million in spending.

Officials, including Shapiro, are also targeting the NFL Draft and working with the league to bring it to Pittsburgh in the next couple of years.

“As part of our economic development strategy, we are going to rely heavily on tourism,” Shapiro said at the meeting . “Tourism is a key driver of our economic strategy going forward.”

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2023 was a record-breaking year for tourism in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — VisitPITTSBURGH announced Wednesday that 2023 was a record-breaking year for tourism alongside Gov. Josh Shapiro.

The industry’s economic impact topped $6.4 billion, supported more than 38,000 jobs and booked more than 200 events.

Shapiro is encouraging the city to host one of the biggest sporting events in the nation next.

The 2026 NFL Draft would bring between 300,000 and 400,000 people to the city with an economic impact of around $130 million. This is the city’s first bid to host.

With last year’s tourism track record, the governor believes Pittsburgh is long overdue to host the big event.

Last year the city’s tourism industry made a $6.4 billion economic impact with a more than 6% increase in visitor spending, over a 5% increase in the amount of tax money generated and a nearly 7% increase in the amount of money made by tourism industry workers.

Pittsburgh tourism impact 2023:

• 6.1% increase in visitor spending

• 5.4% increase in state and local taxes generated

• 6.7% increase in labor income for the more than 38,000 jobs

Mayor Ed Gainey committed to the necessary infrastructure and public safety improvements needed to continue to grow the city’s tourism sector.

Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato highlighted how far the region has come.

VisitPITTSBURGH predicts in 2024 the tourism economic impact will be $6.7 billion and bring more than 2,000 new jobs to the region.

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Pittsburgh tourism nearly recovered from pre-pandemic levels, industry group says

Ryan Deto

By this time next year, Visit Pittsburgh CEO Jerad Bachar believes people won’t be using the word recovery when talking about Pittsburgh’s tourism industry.

“2023 was our first full year with a kind of normalized travel activity after the pandemic,” Bachar said. “But 2024, we definitely want to stop using the word recovery.”

At Visit Pittsburgh’s annual meeting Wednesday, Bachar said Pittsburgh’s tourism industry has recovered about 94% of its economic impact levels compared to 2019, before the pandemic upended the industry.

He said he expects tourism will fully recover and expand beyond pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.

Bachar said visitors and spending tied to sporting events and leisure have already fully recovered and are each above pre-pandemic levels. Business tourism, which includes for trade shows, is still lagging behind.

Visit Pittsburgh, the region’s top tourism group, announced the tourism’s economic impact for the region exceeded $6.4 billion in 2023. In 2022 , that number was about $5.9 billion.

Compared to 2022, the local tourism industry grew across the board, including a 6.1% increase in visitor spending and 5.4% increase in state and local taxes generated, according to the group’s annual report.

Bachar acknowledged the pandemic hit the tourism industry particularly hard initially. He said he is pleased with the region’s recovery.

Pittsburgh saw 20.4 million trips in 2023 and an impressive 7% increase in overnight trips, Bachar said.

Last year saw a slew of major events attracting people to the Steel City, most notably among them was two Taylor Swift concerts at Acrisure Stadium. That week saw 95% of the region’s hotel rooms occupied.

Bachar said Pittsburgh is hoping to continue that momentum this year — and is looking for an assist from state and local officials.

Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato spoke at the Visit Pittsburgh meeting held at Stage AE in Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

She said she also is confident the region will eclipse pre-pandemic tourism activity next year, noting airline passenger levels at Pittsburgh International Airport recently reached that milestone.

“In February for the first time in five years, passenger traffic has exceeded pre-pandemic levels,” she said.

Gov. Josh Shapiro also spoke to the crowd of more than 200 stakeholders, tourism industry professionals and local leaders.

He said his administration is proposing a $15 million increase in state spending to boost the state’s tourism industry as part of his budget proposal .

“I have been to Pittsburgh more than anywhere to talk about economic development. Pittsburgh plays a role in our competitiveness,” Shapiro said. “As part of our economic development strategy, we are going to be very focused on tourism.”

Shapiro reiterated his support for Pittsburgh hosting an NFL Draft in 2026 or 2027. He said he has spoken to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about why Pittsburgh is the best city to host an NFL draft.

“I have been driving him crazy,” Shapiro said.

Bachar said bringing an NFL Draft to Pittsburgh would attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region. He noted Pittsburgh is bidding to host a draft after next year, but said getting the draft would attract other investment and spending that is likely to hit in 2025.

“It would be huge to get the draft,” said Bachar, who added it would be integral to pushing tourism in the region over pre-pandemic levels.

Ryan Deto is a TribLive reporter covering politics, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County news. A native of California’s Bay Area, he joined the Trib in 2022 after spending more than six years covering Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh City Paper, including serving as managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected] .

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A guide to Pittsburgh, America's characterful cultural powerhouse

Arrive in Pittsburgh via the Fort Pitt Tunnel, and you’ll emerge to find one of America’s most striking skylines rising above you. At sunset, this is truly spectacular: the collage of shimmering glass towers, Victorian bridges and rippling rivers a thrilling system shock.

Here in Pennsylvania, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, a city that gained fame as a forge for US steel is being remade for a new future. Tech company Astrobotic Technology is launching a mission to the moon from Pittsburgh, while artists are finding refuge from global conflict within its walls at pioneering safe haven City of Asylum. And the opulent remains of the Gilded Age at places like the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens create form a spectacular backdrop to all that 21st-century innovation and creativity.

The birthplace of Andy Warhol, Pittsburgh embraces its creative side with quirky museums like Bicycle Heaven, Randyland outdoors art museum, and the Mattress Factory — not to mention a gallery dedicated to the enigmatic artist himself. The city’s Civil Rights legacy as a post-Civil War nexus for Americans fleeing the South is showcased powerfully at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

This isn’t a city of blockbuster sights; Pittsburgh is for return visitors to America, keen to eager to explore beyond the likes of New York or LA. There’s no better way to get to know the city than by sampling the contrasting flavours of its 90 neighbourhoods, each paying homage to a unique identity. In the Strip District, red-brick warehouses that were once home to foundries, mills and workshops now house organic grocery stores, indie boutiques and some of the city’s best new restaurants — along with foodie founding father Mancini’s Bread, producer of the Pittsburgh pepperoni roll, among other things. Over in Allentown, distinctly modern tastes are catered to at heavy metal-themed coffee shop Black Forge Coffee House and vegan Asian and American restaurant Onion Maiden.

Lunch at Spork.

Pittsburgh has a way of quickly endearing itself to visitors, notably in summer, after snow heaps have melted from pavements and parks, giving way to cafe tables and baseball games. Baseball is big here with games afoot in every green space; PNC Park pays homage to one of the sport’s legends, Puerto Rican Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente, cast in bronze. The ‘City of Bridges’ is a contrasting patchwork of steel and leafy parks set along the banks of three rivers, replete with summer festivals, including such headliners as June’s Three Rivers Arts Festival: 10 days of free art and music right across the heart of Downtown.  

pittsburgh tourism statistics

Things to see and do

Mattress Factory :   Step into a bewildering world of darkness, light and texture at this contemporary art museum (it calls itself a ‘laboratory’), housed in a former mattress warehouse. Founded in 1977, it offers four floors of interactive exhibits — both revolving exhibitions and permanent pieces by the likes of Greer Lankton, James Turrell and Yayoi Kusama.  

August Wilson African American Cultural Center :   Pittsburgh native August Wilson blazed a trail for Black playwrights and poets in the 1960s and ’70s. His 10-play Century Cycle (chronicling the Black experience in Pittsburgh in the 20th century) is a key piece of US theatre; today visitors can see the works staged at this cultural centre, whose calendar of events, poetry readings and talks honour Wilson’s legacy.  

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens : Enter an enchanting world of plant life under glass at The Phipps Conservatory. Its sprawling Victorian greenhouse contains flora from around the globe, amid waterfalls, ponds, a desert landscape and a tropical forest.  

The Andy Warhol Museum :   Although best known for a groundbreaking creative stint in New York, the paradigm-shaking artist was born and raised in Pittsburgh. His eponymous museum, located in the North Shore area, is home to the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archival materials. Dive into his fascinating life while wandering through a recreation of his film studio, browsing archives of his films and taking an in-depth look at his friendship with fellow iconoclast, Venezuelan-American sculptor Marisol Escobar.  

Craft cocktails at Spork.

Carnegie Museums :   The Oakland neighbourhood is home to a complex of museums and galleries. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History puts visitors face to face with two towering Tyrannosaurus rexes and the Wertz Gallery dazzles with its displays of jewels and gems; the Carnegie Museum of Art, meanwhile, is home to works by the world’s finest impressionist painters, including van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Manet, Pissarro and Matisse.  

Point State Park :   Stroll beneath the Pittsburgh skyline at Point State Park, where a mesmerising fountain marks the merging of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers. Just moments from Downtown — the oldest part of the city, dubbed the ‘Golden Triangle’ as it was where the city’s power and wealth were once concentrated — the park showcases local history at the Fort Pitt Museum and Fort Pitt Block House.  

The Great Allegheny Passage : To cycle along the Great Allegheny Passage (two former railroad corridors) is to ride through the pages of Pittsburgh history. This rails-to-trails path streaks 150 miles through rural Appalachia, past the remnants of the mines, mansions and railway stations that marked America’s expansion westward. Bike rentals are available from Golden Triangle Bike, with lodgings ranging from boutique hotels to hostels.

Paddle to a Pirates Game :   Venture Outdoors rents solo and tandem kayaks in the shadow of the 38,000-seat PNC Park, home to one of the most storied franchises in US sport, the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team . If you work up an appetite, it’s worth noting that the stadium serves much more than hotdogs; try a Primanti Bros sandwich, local barbecue, chipotle-loaded tater tots (totchos) and even quinoa salads.

Where to eat

Pamela's Diner :   Ask Pittsburgh natives where to grab breakfast, and Pamela’s Diner inevitably comes up first. With five locations around the city, this casual, diner-style breakfast chain is a local food franchise icon. Try the crepe-style hotcakes — think airy, deep-fried pancakes — and order a side of crispy potatoes for good measure.  

Federal Galley :   A hip food hall within walking distance of the Andy Warhol Museum, Federal Galley serves as a testing ground for startup restaurants, showcasing cuisines from all corners of the globe beneath its corrugated tin roof. With a changing roster of restaurants, there’s something for every appetite, from American breakfasts to burrata pizza, short ribs, buffalo cauliflower, fancy salads and much more.  

Spork : Pittsburgh has no shortage of creative, contemporary restaurants, and Spork sits at the top of the list. This chef-owned restaurant brings in fresh produce from an adjacent vegetable farm to create New American tapas-type fare. Go all in with rock shrimp-stuffed jalapeño, seared scallops and Wagyu tartare.  

Randyland art gallery.

Where to go shopping

The Pennsylvania Macaroni Co :   An aura of reverence surrounds this historic, Strip District grocery store. A few steps inside reveal why: patrons are greeted with walls of pasta and imported Italian goods, but the real treat is further inside, where Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. houses a gargantuan deli selection: perfect ingredients for a riverside picnic.  

Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop : Pop Rocks, Wacky Wafers, Peppermint Patties and more. Live every child’s dream at this brightly coloured shrine to sugar and sweet treats on Penn Avenue. It’s home to hundreds of varieties of US candy, vintage-style, glass-bottled fizzy drinks and the blowout $5 (£3.80) Candy Buffet. To add to the fun, there’s also a range of quirky puzzles, badges and games.  

Market Square : Summer sees night markets return to Downtown’s Market Square. Set beneath the glimmering, onyx glass of the PPG Place complex, this pop-up market brings creative, independent vendors from across the state to sell artwork, furniture, clothing and candles. Saturdays, June to October.  

Iconic Strip District grocery store, Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.

How to explore like a local

City of Asylum : This nonprofit, home to the world’s largest writer residency programme, is safe haven for writers living in exile or threat of persecution, from as far afield as Myanmar, El Salvador, Vietnam and Turkey. Stop by its bookstore and   40 North Bar & Restaurant house for a curated collection of works and excellent brunch and dinner offerings. Bicycle Heaven : A real local labour of love, the world’s largest museum dedicated to bicycles awaits beyond the unassuming doors of Bicycle Heaven. The collection — begun by owners Craig and Mindy Morrow in 2011 — has grown into an astounding show of steel and aluminium Americana, from a 19th-century Boneshaker to The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine bike, horns, bells and memorabilia. Schenley Park :   Sweeping views of Downtown, a public golf course, tennis courts, lakes and a swimming pool... Schenley Park has it all. Wedged between two university campuses, its 300 acres comprise one of the most beautiful public spaces in America, with walking trails that offer scenic respite for those keen to escape the city.  

Federal Galley, a startup restaurant incubator.

Where to stay

Tryp by Wyndham :   School lockers and yearbook photos mingle with multimedia artwork installations and retro-chic rooms at this Lawrenceville pad. Built from the rubble of a former school, the stylish hotel showcases ‘American fare with an Eastern European accent’ at the Brick Shop restaurant and offers views of the rolling hills that surround the city from rooftop patio and bar Over Eden.  

The Industrialist :   Step off Wood Street and into a chic, modern ode to Pittsburgh’s past. Opened in 2021, this renovation of the 18-storey, 1902 Arrot Building offers stunning views of the Monongahela River and is an easy walk away from the shopping and dining venues at Market Square. Its 124 guest rooms are all dark hues and brass fixtures — a vibe echoed in the stylish lounge and The Rebel Room, a ground-floor cocktail bar and restaurant.  

The Oaklander Hotel , autograph collection:   This luxe, boutique hotel, set within the University of Pittsburgh campus, is decked out in riveted metal, wood and floor-to-ceiling windows and offers views of Schenley Park and the university’s 535ft-tall Cathedral of Learning. As well as 167 chic guest rooms, The Oaklander houses a French-inspired restaurant, Spirits & Tales.

The Rebel Room, at The Industrialist Hotel.

Where to go for nightlife

Trace brewing :   Celebrate Pittsburgh’s diversity at Trace Brewing, a Bloomfield brewery and coffeehouse with a bustling summer beer garden. In conjunction with Pittsburgh Pride Festival (4 to 5 June 2022), the streets around Trace are closed for the venue’s drag acts, DJs, dancing and more. It also hosts monthly coffee art contests between local baristas, drag shows and concerts.  

East End Brewing Company :   Owner Scott Smith started what was to become the city’s go-to craft brewery in 2004. Today, he’s viewed by locals as the godfather of Pittsburgh’s resurgent brewery scene. His brewery showcases its inner workings to out-of-town guests via tours. Smith’s beer has stood the test of time, too. The Partly Clahdy IPA — named for local meteorologist Joe DeNardo’s famous Pittsburgh-accented catchphrase — is a staple; and the house-made pizzas are top-notch.  

Inner Groove Brewing :   This Verona brewery has quickly earned a reputation for exquisite sour beers. Founded in 2019 by two couples, Inner Groove is built around live music and innovative brews. It’s set to expand into a second location in Allentown later this year, where you can expect block parties and concerts to complement its growing batch of brews.  

Getting there & around

From this June, British Airways flies nonstop from Heathrow to Pittsburgh. Numerous airlines including Delta Air Lines , United Airlines and Air Canada , offer indirect flights, via East Coast US hubs.        

Average flight time: 9h.

Pittsburgh serves as a testing ground for new rideshare technologies from the likes of Google, Ford and Uber. Most neighbourhoods are walkable, but these cheap taxi services are useful to link up outlying destinations, and for the airport. The Port Authority ’s 28X Airport Flyer bus takes 38 minutes to reach Downtown.  

Winter can be grey and cold (between -7C and 5C). From April to September, beer gardens and patios come to life as visitors and locals alike enjoy mild temperatures and bountiful outdoor activities, from sporting events to festivals and concerts.

How to do it

Pittsburgh is great to explore by bike or on foot via guided sightseeing or food tours .  

British Airways Holidays   offers five nights in Pittsburgh in June, room only, at the Crowne Plaza Suites Pittsburgh South from £769 per person, including return flights from Heathrow.  

Published in the   June 2022   issue of   National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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New Report Reveals that Tourism Generates $66 Billion for Pennsylvania’s Economy and Supports 450,000 Jobs

  • May 11, 2023

The new report shows that visitor spending has nearly rebounded to 2019 levels as the Commonwealth welcome 180 million visitors in 2021

Harrisburg, PA – A new report by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office shows the tourism industry in the Commonwealth generated $66.3 billion in economic impact, supported 452,885 jobs, contributed $4.2 billion in state and local taxes, and welcomed 180 million visitors in 2021. The 2021 Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism report, released in tandem with National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), provides state, regional, and county level estimates that demonstrate the vital importance of the travel industry to Pennsylvania’s economy. The report, which contains the most recently available data, shows visitor activity in Pennsylvania increased significantly in 2021. This is attributed to businesses and venues reopening and traveler confidence rising.

Key 2021 results include:

  • 180 million visitors, an increase of more than 28 million from 2020
  • $66.3 billion in total economic impact
  • $4.2 billion in state and local taxes
  • 452,885 jobs supported, which equates to 1-in-17 jobs in the state
  • A $9.1 billion increase in direct visitor spending to reach $38 billion — including hotels, restaurants, retailers and other tourism related businesses.

“Tourism is a significant economic driver in Pennsylvania that injects billions into our economy and helps to fund transportation, infrastructure, education, public safety programs and other vital services provided by the Commonwealth,” said Carrie Fischer Lepore, Department of Community and Economic Development Deputy Secretary of Marketing, Tourism & Film. “Each household in Pennsylvania would need to pay an additional $802 in taxes to replace the tax dollars generated by the tourism industry which were received by state and local governments in 2021. We know that these numbers will continue to grow as consumer trends show, yet again, significant enthusiasm for travel to Pennsylvania.”

According to the latest Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers , 93 percent have trips planned in the next six month — the highest level in three years.

Visitor spending — which supports jobs, income, and business sales — generated $8.8 billion in government revenues. State and local taxes alone tallied $4.2 billion in 2021, an increase of $614 million from 2020.

Overnight visitor spending growth has contributed the most to the economic recovery, increasing by $7.5 billion — 82 percent of the overall spending gain — in 2021, with more than 60 million trips resulted in $23.2 billion in spending. Overnight visitors spent $388 per person, a $27 increase from 2020; while spending on day trips grew to $14.8 billion.

The Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism report is compiled at the Pennsylvania Tourism Office at DCED with information provide by Tourism Economics , an Oxford Economics Company based in Wayne, with data supplied by Longwoods International and STR .

Established in 1983, National Travel and Tourism Week is an annual tradition to celebrate the U.S. travel community and travel’s essential role in stimulating economic growth, cultivating vibrant communities, creating quality job opportunities, inspiring new businesses and elevating the quality of life for Americans every day. The theme for the 40th anniversary of NTTW is #TravelForward to spotlight the essential role that travel plays in driving economic growth and innovation.

The Pennsylvania Tourism Office, housed within the Department of Community and Economic Development, is dedicated to inspiring travel to Pennsylvania. From iconic attractions to hidden gems, tourism in Pennsylvania helps support the state’s economy and creates jobs for local businesses — all while improving residents’ quality of life.

Need more PA happy travels? Become a fan on Facebook , follow us on Twitter , check out photos on Instagram , share pins on Pinterest , watch us on YouTube or listen to us on Spotify .

For more information about the Department of Community and Economic Development, visit DCED website , and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook , Twitter , and LinkedIn .

MEDIA CONTACT: Penny Ickes, [email protected]

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The Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy conducts and analyzes annual trail counts along the GAP, and coordinates occasional research about how tourism impacts the regional economy. 

Economic Impact of Tourism on the GAP

Tourism along the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage drove over $121 million in economic impact in 2019, according to a year-long analysis by Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Fourth Economy. Spending by tourists yielded an estimated $19 million in tax revenue, with $8.7 million in tax revenue going to back to state, county, and local governments, and it supported nearly 1,400 jobs. The report concludes with a discussion of key opportunities and challenges facing both trail-facing businesses and trail towns along the GAP. Download the complete report, released in 2021. Prior Economic Impact Analyses along the GAP 2015 | 2012 | 2008

pittsburgh tourism statistics

Estimated Annual Visitation to the Great Allegheny Passage

Visits to the Great Allegheny Passage number 900,000 to 1.4 million annually, and show an upward trend of about four percent each year. Our methodology is conservative, and includes analyzing data captured by TRAFx infrared counters and by volunteers. See below for complete reports by year.

Analyses of Trail Usage Patterns along the GAP 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

Trail Town Toolkit

Trail Towns: Capturing Trail-Based Tourism 2005

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Fast Facts in Pittsburgh

Business Hours The following are general open hours; specific establishments may vary. Banks: Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm (some are also open Sat 9am-noon). Most banks and other outlets offer 24-hour access to automated teller machines (ATMs). Offices: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Stores: Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm, and some also on Sunday from noon to 5pm. Malls usually stay open until 9pm Monday to Saturday, and department stores are usually open until 9pm at least 1 day a week.

Electricity Like Canada, the United States uses 110-120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220-240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Downward converters that change 220-240 volts to 110-120 volts are difficult to find in the United States, so bring one with you.

Emergencies Call tel. 911 for fire, police, and ambulance.

If you encounter serious problems, contact Traveler's Aid International at to help direct you to a local branch. This nationwide, nonprofit, social-service organization geared to helping travelers in difficult straits offers services that might include reuniting families separated while traveling, providing food and/or shelter to people stranded without cash, or even emotional counseling. If you're in trouble, seek them out.

How to Make International Calls Generally, hotel surcharges on long-distance and local calls are astronomical, so you're better off using your cellphone or a public pay telephone. Many convenience groceries and packaging services sell prepaid calling cards in denominations up to $50; for international visitors these can be the least expensive way to call home. Many public phones at airports now accept American Express, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards. Local calls made from public pay phones in most locales cost either 35¢ or 50¢. Pay phones do not accept pennies, and few will take anything larger than a quarter.

Most long-distance and international calls can be dialed directly from any phone. For calls within the United States and to Canada, dial 1 followed by the area code and the seven-digit number. For other international calls, dial 011 followed by the country code, city code, and the number you are calling.

For reversed-charge or collect calls, and for person-to-person calls, dial the number 0 then the area code and number; an operator will come on the line, and you should specify whether you are calling collect, person-to-person, or both. If your operator-assisted call is international, ask for the overseas operator.

For local directory assistance ("information"), dial 411; for long-distance information, dial 1 and then the appropriate area code and 555-1212.

Just because your cellphone works at home doesn't mean it'll work everywhere in the U.S. (thanks to our nation's fragmented cellphone system). Take a look at your wireless company's coverage map on its website before heading out. If you need to stay in touch at a destination where you know your phone won't work, rent a phone that does from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626; or a rental car location, but beware that you'll pay $1 a minute or more for airtime.

If you're not from the U.S., you'll be appalled at the poor reach of our GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) wireless network, which is used by much of the rest of the world. Your phone will probably work in most major U.S. cities; it definitely won't work in many rural areas. To see where GSM phones work in the U.S., check out And you may or may not be able to send SMS (text messaging) home.

Internet Access It's easy to stay connected in Pittsburgh, especially if you're staying downtown: The entire downtown is wired for free high-speed Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) access. In other areas of town, more and more hotels, resorts, cafes, and retailers are going Wi-Fi, becoming "hotspots" that offer free Wi-Fi access or charge a small fee for usage (most laptops sold today have built-in wireless capability). If you're traveling to Pittsburgh by air, keep in mind that Pittsburgh International Airport offers free Wi-Fi throughout all four airside concourses -- A, B, C and D -- the core and the AIRMALL food courts, and in the US Airways Club in the airside core. To find public Wi-Fi hotspots in Pittsburgh, go to ; its Hotspot Finder holds the world's largest directory of public wireless hotspots.

If you aren't bringing your laptop with you, you can stay connected at one of the city's cybercafes (average cost: $4-$5/hr.), which provide computer stations with fully loaded software (as well as Wi-Fi); ask your concierge for recommendations. Note that hotels often feature a computer room with fully loaded computer stations for guests. Copy shops like FedEx Kinko's also offer computer stations and Wi-Fi services; to find locations in Pittsburgh, go to

For dial-up access, most business-class hotels in the U.S. offer dataports for laptop modems, and thousands of hotels in the U.S. and Europe now offer free high-speed Internet access. Wherever you go, bring a connection kit of the right power and phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable -- or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests.

Liquor Laws The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania is 21. Proof of age is a necessity -- it's often requested at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so always bring ID when you go out.

In Pennsylvania, liquor and wine are sold only in state-run stores (open 7 days a week). You can purchase beer at some bars and at beer distributors, but not in grocery stores or convenience stores.

Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car or any public area that isn't zoned for alcohol consumption -- the police can fine you on the spot. Nothing will ruin your trip faster than getting a citation for DUI ("driving under the influence"), so don't even think about driving while intoxicated.

Mail At press time, domestic postage rates were 24¢ for a postcard and 41¢ for a letter. For international mail, a first-class letter of up to 1 ounce costs 90¢ (69¢ to Canada and Mexico); and a first-class postcard costs 90¢ (69¢ to Canada and Mexico. For more information go to and click on "Calculate Postage."

If you aren't sure what your address will be in the United States, mail can be sent to you, in your name, c/o General Delivery at the main post office of the city or region where you expect to be. (Call tel. 800/275-8777 for information on the nearest post office.) The addressee must pick up mail in person and must produce proof of identity (driver's license, passport, and so forth). Most post offices will hold your mail for up to 1 month.

Always include zip codes when mailing items in the U.S. If you don't know your zip code, visit

Pittsburgh's downtown post office is located at 700 Grant St. (tel. 412/642-0769 ); it's open Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm, and Saturdays from 7am to 2pm. For specific branch information, call tel. 800/275-8777 or log on to .

Newspapers & Magazines Pittsburgh has two major daily newspapers: the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review . The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today are widely available. The Pittsburgh City Paper (CP) is a free art, entertainment, and news alternative weekly found in coffee shops, convenience stores, restaurants, and bookstores; it comes out every Wednesday. The official Pittsburgh tourism bureau, VisitPittsburgh, puts out EventSource, a free quarterly calendar booklet you can pick up in hotels and visitor information centers. Pittsburgh Magazine is a glossy entertainment and lifestyle monthly that also publishes an annual City Guide .

Police Call tel. 911 for emergencies. The headquarters for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is at 1203 Western Ave. (tel. 412/323-7800 ).

Safety Pittsburgh takes pride in its reputation as one of the safest big cities in the country; its low crime rate is one of the factors that went into its selection as "America's Most Livable City" in 2007 by Places Rated Almanac . That's not to say that the city is crime-free. Take the usual common-sense precautions: Avoid deserted areas, especially at night, and don't venture into public parks at night unless a concert or other similar event is attracting crowds. Keep your money and valuables in a safe place, and always lock your hotel door. If you're driving, buckle up: The city has made a concerted effort to crack down on drivers who aren't wearing seatbelts; passengers are required to buckle up as well.

Smoking At press time, smokers still had the right to light up wherever they're welcome: A county-wide smoking ban that would prohibit smoking in nearly all indoor public places in Pittsburgh remains in limbo, stalled by legal challenges.

Taxes Shopper alert: Pittsburgh (and Pennsylvania) has no sales tax on clothing. Sales tax for restaurant meals and general sales is 7%. Hotels tack on a room (or occupancy) tax of 14%.

The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city has the right to levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks, airline tickets, and so on.

Time Zone The United States is divided into six time zones. From east to west, these zones are Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST), Pacific Standard Time (PST), Alaska Standard Time (AST), and Hawaii Standard Time (HST). Always keep the changing time zones in mind if you are traveling (or even telephoning) over long distances in the United States. Noon in New York City (EST), for example, is 11am in Chicago (CST), 10am in Phoenix (MST), 9am in Los Angeles (PST), 8am in Anchorage (AST), and 7am in Honolulu (HST).

Pittsburgh observes Eastern Standard Time. Daylight saving time is in effect from the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November (actually, the change is made at 2am on Sun). Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time. (Americans use the adage "spring ahead, fall back" to remember which way to change their clocks and watches.)

Tipping Tips are a very important part of certain workers' income, and gratuities are the standard way of showing appreciation for services provided. (Tipping is certainly not compulsory if the service is poor.) In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per bag ($2-$3 if you have a lot of luggage) and tip the chamber staff $1 to $2 per day (more if you've left a disaster area to clean up). Tip the doorman or concierge only if he or she has provided you with some specific service (for example, calling a cab for you or obtaining difficult-to-get theater tickets). Tip the valet-parking attendant $1 every time you get your car.

In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff 15% to 20% of the check, tip bartenders 10% to 15%, tip checkroom attendants $1 per garment, and tip valet-parking attendants $1 per vehicle.

As for other service personnel, tip cab drivers 15% of the fare; tip skycaps at airports $1 to $2 per bag ($2-$3 if you have a lot of luggage); and tip hairdressers and barbers 15% to 20%.

Water Pittsburgh enjoys fine-quality tap water, both for drinking and bathing.

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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VisitPITTSBURGH Presents the 2022 Official Visitors Guide

Publication highlights Only in Pittsburgh experiences to inspire travel to region

PITTSBURGH – VisitPITTSBURGH today unveiled its 2022 Official Visitors Guide with a goal of inspiring travel to Allegheny County by spotlighting the exciting attractions, experiences and activities visitors can see, do and find Only in Pittsburgh.

The Official Visitors Guide connects visitors to the many ways to explore the city with targeted QR codes leading readers to even more exciting content on . The piece also features articles written by local contributors, as well as itinerary tips and ideas, fresh features on Pittsburgh’s thrifting and food truck scene and so much more.

“This magazine truly demonstrates why Pittsburgh is a must-see destination for travelers,” VisitPITTSBURGH President & CEO Jerad Bachar said. “From our 90 unique neighborhoods and breathtaking views to our fantastic hotels and accommodations, award-winning restaurants, engaging cultural attractions and much, much more, there are plenty of reasons to plan a visit to Pittsburgh.”

According to Destination Analysts’ February 2022 American Traveler Sentiment Study , Americans’ excitement to travel over the next 12 months is the highest it has ever been in the pandemic era, with those in a ready-to-travel mindset hitting an all-time high of 84.6%. Additionally, 93.3% of Americans plan to take at least one leisure trip in the next 12 months, marking the highest percentage since the onset of the pandemic. And, 53.0% of American travelers note that “visiting new places they hadn’t been to before” are a high priority to them this year.

“As travel consumers return in larger numbers, we want to offer visitors a taste of the exciting, unique experiences and attractions waiting for them in Pittsburgh,” Bachar added. “We are very excited to welcome even more visitors to Allegheny County this year.”

The publication’s cover photo, captured by local photographer Dave DiCello, features the beautiful Downtown Pittsburgh skyline from Allegheny Commons Park. Pittsburgh design firm ocreations generated the guide’s design.

Visitors and locals are encouraged to view and download a copy of the 2022 Official Visitors Guide at . Physical copies of the guide can be mailed by request or found at select Pennsylvania welcome centers, turnpike plazas and AAA locations as well as select Ohio AAA locations.

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pittsburgh tourism statistics

Report: Pittsburgh Region's Leisure And Hospitality Sector Is In Dire Straits

pittsburgh tourism statistics

The region’s leisure and hospitality sector is in dire economic straits, according to  a report issued earlier this month  from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development

Some sectors of the region’s economy have rebounded from COVID-19 in terms of employment numbers, and in some cases, such as retail and healthcare, are even ahead of their pre-pandemic employment figures, said Jim Futrell, vice president of market research at the Conference.

“Leisure and hospitality on the other hand…while it was able to rebound slightly into June, as [coronavirus] restrictions were lifted, what you did see is that sector has not been able to really gain any traction since then.”

That sector of the economy includes businesses and nonprofits covering arts, entertainment, and recreation, such as the symphony, cultural events, and museums, as well as accommodation and food service businesses such as hotels and restaurants.

It is the third-largest industry in the region, he noted.

A survey late last year from the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association  found about half of restaurants did not expect to be in business in six months without additional government aid .

Chris Briem, a regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research, has also studied the uneven impact the pandemic has had on various parts of the economy.

“Recovery in that sector clearly has been over for several months,” he said of restaurants,  noting that “full-service” restaurants where patrons sit down to order, have been the hardest hit.

The Allegheny Conference report looks at employment figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics through December of last year.

“As 2020 ends and 2021 begins, it has become increasingly evident that while the region as a whole is in a recession, the leisure and hospitality sector is in a depression,” Futrell wrote in the business group’s report.

“Leisure and hospitality have seen little recovery since June. While much of this is due to the challenges faced by the restaurant industry, the arts, entertainment and recreation sector has seen employment drop continuously since July. Trends will likely not change in the coming months as a result of the cold weather, but with the emerging distribution of a vaccine, and the approach of spring, a slow recovery can begin which will benefit regional employment as a whole,” Futrell forecast.

The region has lost more than 86,000 jobs – a 7.2% drop in employment between December 2019 and December 2020 – overall. The report covers Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Pennsylvania  recently rolled out a $145 million “recovery program”  for hospitality industry businesses; counties must establish grant programs to disburse the funds to eligible businesses.  

pittsburgh tourism statistics

pittsburgh tourism statistics

19 of the most surprising statistics about tourism

I t’s World Tourism Day, a time – these days – for much pontificating about sustainability and the impact of travel upon the planet. Instead, we’re going to take a look at some of the more surprisingly facts about the tourism industry. It’s all perfect fodder for your next pub quiz. 

Aviation accounts for just 2 per cent of global carbon emissions

But first, a word on sustainability. Alongside giving up meat, taking fewer flights is usually billed as the best way for individuals to cut their carbon footprint, and with the recent “flight shaming” trend, it can feel like we’re being collectively bullied to stay on the ground. All of which might lead one to assume that aviation accounts for a considerable chunk of global emissions. The actual figure, therefore, may be smaller than you’d imagine. In 2022 aviation, when the industry reached 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, it accounted for just 2 per cent of global carbon emissions. 

By 2030, one in four tourists will be Chinese

A few years ago, the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) predicted that overseas trips by the country’s residents would increase from 145m a year to more than 400m by 2030. In other words, it would account for around a quarter of international tourism. The pandemic put the brakes on such staggering growth, but expect things to start picking up again – fast. 

Saudi Arabia wants to surpass France as a holiday destination

Speaking of 2030, that is the year when Saudi Arabia wants to start welcoming 100m annual visitors – more than the record 91.1m France, the world’s most visited country, welcomed in 2019. It’s all part of Vision 2030, the state’s grand plan to jettison its overreliance on oil. Central to that plan will be the launch of Riyadh Air, to take on the likes of Emirates, the construction of a vast new airport designed to accommodate up to 120m annual passengers, and the creation of two new coastal “cities” – Amaala and Neom – to lure sunseekers . 

France’s number two tourist town?

Paris is number one – naturellement. But number two isn’t Bordeaux, Nice or Marseille. It’s Lourdes, a town of 13,000 residents that manages to attract 6m visitors every year thanks to the apparitions of a peasant girl called Bernadette. It has 279 hotels to choose from, according to – only the French capital has more.

Only 0.07 per cent of the world’s population have been to Antarctica

You get that rough figure if you divide the number of people who visit Antarctica each year (100,000) by the number of people born each year (140m). But even fewer have been to the least visited country on Earth, Tuvalu – just 0.0026% of us (or 3,700 people a year). 

More Britons visit the Canary Islands each year than Italy

Lying on a hot volcanic rock? It’s better than Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast rolled into one. That’s according to official figures which show that around 5m of us go to the Canaries each year, compared with the 4.1m who visit Italy.

The biggest hotel on Earth is not in Las Vegas

Twelve of the world’s 20 largest hotels, in terms of total rooms, are found in Sin City. But number one, the First World Hotel (which has a staggering 7,351 rooms), is somewhere rather more obscure. The Genting Highlands of Malaysia. It will soon lose the record, however. The US$3.5 billion Abraj Kudai in Mecca, under construction since 2015, will have 10,000 rooms.  

And Macau makes more money from gambling tourists than Las Vegas

Another win for Asia. Macau has earned a reputation as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient”. Chinese games – like Fan Tan , a version of roulette – traditionally dominated its casinos, but the last 20 years have seen a move to embrace the many western-style ways of parting the punter from their money – to the extent that, in 2007, Macao overtook the Las Vegas Strip on gambling revenues. 

Which is the most luxurious place on Earth?

What – or where – is the most luxurious place on earth? New York? Dubai? Abu Dhabi? Obviously, the answer depends on how you are defining “luxurious”. But if the key metric is “city with the greatest number of five-star hotels”, then the identity of the most gleaming metropolis may surprise you. It used to be London, but as of earlier this month, and the release of the 2023 edition of jet-set bible the Forbes Travel Guide , the place in focus is – again – Macau. Said chic dot on the map of the Far East now boasts 22 hotels in the uppermost bracket.

Inverness is more popular than Stratford-upon-Avon

With its Shakespeare connections, surely Stratford-upon-Avon welcomes more tourists than plucky little Inverness? Not so, according to VisitBritain. London is number one, by a mile (21.7m overnight visitors in 2019, the last “normal” year), followed by Edinburgh (2.2m), Manchester (1.6m) and Birmingham (1.1m). Stratford lags way down in 17th, with 271,000 arrivals, just below Inverness (which, we assume, is used by many as a launch pad for jaunts around the Highlands).

And Reading trumps Windsor

Both are in Berkshire, but only one can boast the largest inhabited castle on the planet, Britain’s branch of Legoland, and a picturesque riverside racecourse. Yet it is Reading that makes VisitBritain’s top 20 (237,000 visitors in 2019) at the expense of Windsor. 

The Maldives really needs your money

The value of tourism to the Maldivian economy is more than US$2bn – or 32.5 per cent of its GDP. Only one destination (hello again Macau) is more reliant on your money . Needless to say, the last few years have been a struggle. 

Tourists outnumber locals by 7,853 to 1 in the Vatican City

The Vatican City has just 764 permanent inhabitants, measures a titchy 0.2 square miles, and receives – according to some sources – 6m visitors a year. That’s 7,853 tourists per resident or 31.58m per square mile.  

Bangladesh is the world’s least touristy country

At the other end of the scale is Bangladesh. With a population of 169.8m but only 323,000 annual visitors, it welcomes just 0.002 tourists per resident per year, making it perhaps the least touristy country on Earth.

Iran has 25 World Heritage Sites

This won’t surprise anyone who has been there – it’s a fascinating place packed with history (though currently off-limits, according to the Foreign Office). But those who don’t know it well might raise an eyebrow to learn that it trumps the likes of Japan, the US and Greece when it comes to World Heritage Sites . 

Bicester Village is almost as popular as Buckingham Palace

Among Chinese visitors that is. Travellers from the world’s most populous country have some other curious destinations on their wishlist . Around 150,000 visit Trier every year, for example, making it the most sought-after German destination among Chinese globetrotters. Why? It is the birthplace of Karl Marx, of course. And Montargis, a small town south of Paris, is also inexplicably popular. That’s because hundreds of young Chinese scholars studied there in the early part of the 20th century, including many future stars of China’s Communist Party. 

English really is the global language

Thanks to a combination of empire, mass tourism and invasive Western culture, English really is the global language. According to David Crystal’s book English as a Global Language, at least half the population of 45 countries speak it. There are also just 13 countries where fewer than 10 per cent of the population speak English, including China, Colombia, Brazil and Russia. 

16 of the world’s 30 busiest airports are American

A combination of international travel slowdown and America’s ravenous appetite for flying meant that in 2022, 16 of the world’s 30 busiest airports (in terms of total passenger numbers) were on US soil. Number one, as it has been each year since 1998 (except for 2020, when it was temporarily unseated by Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport), was Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (93.7m passengers for 2022). 

Albania is already welcoming more tourists than in 2019

The pandemic saw tourism slump across the planet, but some countries have recovered far quicker than others. They include Turkey, the fourth most visited country in 2022 (50.5m overseas arrivals, a shade under its 2019 figure of 51.2m), the UAE (22.7m arrivals in 2022 vs 21.6m in 2019) and, perfect for budget sunshine, Albania (6.7m arrivals in 2022 vs 6.1m in 2019). 

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Iran has more World Heritage Sites than the US - Getty

Wisconsin tourism is having a big moment. But what goes into calculating economic impact?

pittsburgh tourism statistics

  • The $25.6 billion number includes $15.7 in direct visitor spending, plus indirect effects like wages being spent in local economies.
  • Not all counties benefit equally from tourism in Wisconsin, but all saw at least some increase from 2022 to 2023.
  • It’s common for Wisconsin to set a tourism record every year, but the pandemic caused a dip that the state has largely recovered from.

It’s not a stretch to say Wisconsin tourism is having a moment.

Season 21 of “Top Chef,” which just finished airing, gave viewers a glimpse of Wisconsin’s traditions. Business boomed at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin in Spring Green after it was featured in an episode.

In a few weeks, the Republican National Convention will blanket Milwaukee, bringing thousands of delegates, politicians, staff and media who will spend money on entertainment, hotels and restaurants . 

And don’t forget about next April, when an estimated 240,000 visitors will come to Green Bay and surrounding cities for the NFL Draft. An economic impact of $94 million is the early projection . 

That boom isn’t lost on Wisconsin politicians, especially Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has frequently hyped up a “record-breaking year” for tourism in posts on X, the site formerly known as Twitter. 

“Wisconsin saw another record-breaking year for tourism, with a historic $25 billion economic impact in 2023,” Evers posted June 11, 2024. “That blows 2022's record year out of the water.”

On June 22, 2024, Evers also called out “Wisconsin's record-breaking year for tourism” and credited outdoor recreation opportunities. 

PolitiFact Wisconsin was interested in these numbers, because there’s no doubt tourism will continue to be a hot topic in Wisconsin in the months ahead.

$25 billion is clearly a large number, but what goes into the formula to generate that economic impact? Is it spread throughout the state, or only in cities? And how does it compare to past years?

In short, is Evers right that it’s record-breaking?

Let’s take a look. 

Outside report calculates visitor spending and other variables to reach $25 billion number

The $25 billion number Evers is referring to comes from the Tourism Economics Report , which is available on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism website.

The report was created by Tourism Economics — a company of global advisory firm Oxford Economics — not the state itself. 

The methodology explains the firm used a model to trace the “flow of visitor-related expenditures through the state’s economy and their effects on employment, wages, and taxes.” 

Visitors were considered people who stayed overnight on a trip or traveled more than 50 miles to a destination. Multiple data sources were used, such as from surveys and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With that said, let’s take a closer look at how they calculated the $25 billion total impact. 

A large portion of that number — $15.7 billion — comes from direct visitor spending on things like lodging, food and beverage, retail, entertainment and transportation. 

Then there’s about $4.6 billion in what’s called supply-chain effects, such as needing to purchase more from food wholesalers and utilities. 

Finally, there’s $4.7 billion in “induced impacts” — which refers to wages that are generated directly or indirectly by visitor spending and spent in the local economy. 

That gives a picture of what goes into the $25 billion: It’s more than just the raw amount that visitors are spending in Wisconsin. 

Is that impact equally felt in the state?

The tourism department said all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties saw an increase in their total economic impact number from 2022 to 2023. A spreadsheet of county-level data confirms that. 

The top five counties with the highest economic impact, in millions, were Milwaukee, Dane, Sauk, Waukesha and Brown. 

Interestingly, popular tourism destination Door County ranked eighth at $620 million, far below Milwaukee’s $4.17 billion . 

The counties with the lowest economic impact from tourism were Menominee, Florence, Pepin, Forest and Lafayette. Those ranged from $6 million to $29 million in impacts. 

The counties that saw the highest growth in their total economic impact from 2022 to 2023 were Monroe, Menominee, and Green Lake. They saw increases from 10 to 11 percent each. 

Bottom line: All counties experienced growth in 2023, though some counties clearly benefit more from tourism than others.

Records often set each year, with COVID-19 pandemic as an exception 

Let’s go back to the part of Evers’ claim about 2023 being a “record-breaking year.” 

The tourism department has said the $25 billion last year broke a record, surpassing the previous record of $23.7 billion set in 2022. That increase is above the rate of inflation , too.

There’s a history of setting a new tourism record every year, at least under normal circumstances.

In 2017, the economic impact was about $20.6 billion, then $21.6 billion in 2018, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported . In 2019, the economic impact was $22.2 billion, according to a WPR story .

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the economic impact dropped significantly to around $17.3 billion, then increased 21% to $20.9 billion in 2021, according to the department . 

Clearly, the tourism industry has been rebounding from COVID-19. The report says that “key indicators point to the normalization of Wisconsin’s visitor activity in 2023.” 

But some of those indicators haven’t quite caught up to pre-pandemic levels. Those include employment directly supported by visitor activity, and local and state tax revenues. 

Still, previous reports show that 2023 was a record-setting year for tourism. That economic impact number appears to steadily rise and set new records each year, with the onset of COVID-19 as an exception. 

And it certainly won’t be a surprise if Wisconsin sets another record in 2024, when the effects of “Top Chef” and the RNC are accounted for.

Our ruling 

Evers claimed Wisconsin had a “record-breaking year” for tourism in 2023.

The $25 billion total economic impact did set a record in 2023. Setting a new record each year is common, though COVID-19 caused a dip that the state has largely recovered from. 

To be sure, that impact isn’t felt equally in all communities in Wisconsin — some counties benefit far more from tourism than others — though all counties saw at least some increase in their totals from 2022 to 2023. 

And don't be surprised if the state Department of Tourism announces another huge increase in 2024. 

We rate the claim True.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, People are flocking to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin after it was featured in 'Top Chef' , April 26, 2024.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 'Most we ever spent in a city': What the largest delegation plans to do in Milwaukee for RNC , June 24, 2024.

Green Bay Press Gazette, Five reasons Green Bay hosting the 2025 NFL draft is 'a really big deal' for Wisconsin , May 24, 2023. 

X. Gov. Tony Evers , June 11, 2024.

X, Gov. Tony Evers , June 22, 2024.

Tourism Economics, The Wisconsin Visitor Industry - 2023 , May 2024.

Wisconsin Department of Tourism, County by County Spreadsheet , 2024.

Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Gov. Evers, Department of Tourism Announce Wisconsin Tourism Sees Another Record-Breaking Year , June 11, 2024.

Oshkosh Northwestern, Wisconsin tourism is flourishing; its economic impact reached $21.6 billion in 2018 , May 19, 2019. 

Wisconsin Public Radio, 2019 Was The Best Year In Recent History For Wisconsin Tourism, Then Coronavirus Hit , May 5, 2020. 

Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Wisconsin Tourism Surges in 2021 , June 8, 2022.

U.S. Inflation Calculator .


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