State Tourism statistics from Travel Oregon are in, and for the ninth year in a row the state has shown steady tourism growth.

“Travel and tourism in Oregon is now a $12.3 billion industry, that’s up about half a billion from last year,” Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson said. “The tourism industry employs 115,400 Oregonians, which is up 3,200 jobs from 2017.

Average statewide growth for tourism since 2010 is 4 percent, and the South Coast has stuck close to that average with its own average being 3.2 percent.

Total tourism spending on the South Coast, which includes both Coos and Curry counties, was $413 million. Tourism on the South Coast accounts for 5,400 jobs.

“In 2016 on the South Coast spending was $396 million, and today its $413 million. If you go back to 2010, the South Coast was generating $322 million. So spending on the South Coast has gone up almost $100 million in the past eight years,” Davidson said.

Job increase in the tourism industry on the South Coast since 2010 has risen by nearly 800 jobs.

One thing that Travel Oregon has noticed an increase in is international visitors. According to Davidson, statewide growth in international spending is outpacing domestic spending by two to one.

“International visitation accounts for roughly one out of every eight dollars that’s being spent in Oregon. This is a trend we expect to continue, because we have strong international air service into Oregon, and we’re seeing some economies that are emerging on the global scale. We’re seeing emerging middle classes in China and India, which are markets that 15 years ago we wouldn’t even be talking about,” Davidson said.

In 2018, a record was set for total international visits, which was 1.1 million international visitors. That is a 3.9 percent increase from 2017. International visitors spent $1.4 billion in Oregon, a 4.9 percent increase from the year prior.

Davidson’s suggestion for the South Coast on how to continue this nearly decade long upward trend in tourism is that it needs to continue to invest in efforts that help drive demand, and that the coast continue to invest in its product.

“We need to market, and we need to let people know that we are here for business. That we’re welcoming all visitors…We need to be offering new experiences and enhancing existing experiences we have for our visitors. That’s being done on the South Coast with the food trails, and focusing on outdoor recreation,” Davidson said.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.