8 million visitors drop $3 billion in state coffers

DOVER — Linda Parkowski believed 2014 was a good year for Delaware’s tourism industry.

The Delaware Tourism Office director was thrilled when learning just how good it was.
A published analysis by D.K. Shiflett and Rockport Analytics showed tourism contributed $3 billion to the First State’s gross domestic product in 2014, thanks to 8 million visitors and “that jumped out at me,” she said.

The confirmation was part of a 16-page report indicating wide-ranging positive components of the industry that generated 5 percent of the state’s GDP.

Delawareans are seeing rewards — each household statewide would pay an extra $1,360 a year in taxes if tourism did not exist, the report indicated. Tourism generates 10 percent of the state’s tax revenues.

Also, approximately 11 percent of all workers in the state are connected to tourism, powering a 14 percent rise in Delaware’s net new jobs in 2014.

In Sussex County, more than $1 billion was generated through high occupancy and rising rates in rental homes.

“Tourism is clearly an economic engine and growth industry in Delaware,” Ms. Parkowski said.

“It positively impacts the state’s businesses, workers and tax revenue. We believe recent efforts to improve Delaware’s brand regionally will move it forward even more.

As information for 2015 continues to be gathered, Ms. Parkowski believes another good report will emerge about this time next year.

“I believe that 2015 will have been another very productive year,” she said.

To keep the positive momentum going, the tourism office is adding signage to help visitors enjoy their stay in a state that’s easy to navigate through. Also, Ms. Parkowski said, a significant announcement regarding Delaware’s growing craft breweries is coming in May.

“We’re please to assist, promote and market them,” she said.

For the first time, television advertisements are running in areas like Philadelphia and New York City as Delaware officials increase their state’s visibility in key markets.

Along with Philadelphia and New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, residents account for 75 percent of tourists coming to the First State, the study found. At 30 percent, Philadelphia is the largest market provider, followed by Baltimore and New York with 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively, Washington with 12 percent and Harrisburg with 5 percent.

Just over 18 percent of tourists come from New Jersey, followed by Maryland (16 percent), Pennsylvania (15.5), New York (12.7) and Delaware (12.2). About 17 percent of the visitors come from, in order, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Ohio and Washington, D.C., according to research.

The average visitor spends $573 per trip to Delaware, analysis found, and $102 per day. Shopping, dining and visiting the beach were the lead activities.

The report “added validity to what we already know — that tourism is a viable business that employs (thousands) of people throughout the state,” Ms. Parkowski said.

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