While Seattle is thriving across the board, it is high hotel occupancy that stands out as a clear winner.
Summer travel is booming, and Seattle’s tourism season is off to a particularly strong start.
According to STR data, Seattle’s metro region in mid-June hit 86.8% hotel occupancy, the highest of all U.S. markets. The city’s downtown hotels shattered their single-day revenue record, operating at 96.7% occupancy, surging past the $5 million mark.
“I see this being our biggest summer yet. We have a great mix of everything going on and I think they are going to sustain us right through to early fall,” said Visit Seattle CEO Tammy Blount-Canavan.
Various events are driving growth. These include MLB All-Star Week, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) monthlong conference, and the Bumbershoot Music Festival, all expected to draw large crowds.
Flight scheduling data also points to a busy summer. Though still down from 2019 levels, scheduled flight numbers for the third quarter are up 5.7% compared to the same period in 2022, according to Cirium Diio.
One promising factor contributing to the growth in Seattle tourism is the increase in long-haul flights. They are expected to be up 25% this quarter.
One negative: China. A large portion of long-haul flights are departing within the U.S. as international arrivals are still recovering. “We’re not back to where we were with our international audience. Primarily because China used to be our largest overseas market, and it’s nobody’s largest overseas market at the moment. That takes a big chunk out of it,” Blount-Canavan said.
The increase in leisure travel, which has strongly rebounded post-pandemic, and the re-opening of many country borders is likely to be the reason for such an increase. This demand has led to several new airline routes, including French Polynesia, Paris, Istanbul, and several cities in Mexico.
Cruises are another significant contributor to Seattle tourism. According to the Port of Seattle, 1.43 million passengers are expected to cruise from Seattle this year, a 12% increase from 2022.
The industry delivers substantial economic benefits to the city and is expected to deliver over $900 million in economic activity, with each homeported vessel bringing in over $4 million to the local economy each time it provisions at the dock.
“This is our most robust cruise season yet with more sailings, larger ships, and more passengers than ever,” Blount-Canavan said.
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Photo credit: The Seattle skyline with the mountains in the background. Wikimedi Commons