Study: Delaware attracted record number of visitors in 2015

YORKLYN — Delaware hit new records for tourists and their positive impact on the state’s economy in 2015, according to state officials.

At a news conference Tuesday at Dew Point Brewing Company in Yorklyn, Gov. John Carney and Delaware Tourism director Linda Parkowksi discussed new data showing 8.5 million visitors came to Delaware in 2015.

Tourism accounted for $3.1 billion of Delaware’s gross domestic product. In turn, that created $486 million in taxes and fees for state and local government.

Without tourism each Delaware household would pay an extra $1,417 in taxes annually, officials said.

The industry is now also responsible for 42,000 jobs in Delaware — making it the fourth-largest private employment sector in the state.

All of those numbers are new highs for the state. Each is a significant jump from where it was in 2008 when the state put a renewed focus on promoting Delaware as a vacation destination.

“A robust tourism industry is essential to a healthy economy in Delaware,” said Gov. Carney. “It has been great to see this area thrive across the state. I look forward to continuing that success and the work that makes it possible.”

The new data reflects the results seen from the state’s new tourism brand – “Delaware: Endless Discoveries” – which was rolled out in January 2015.

Advertising directed at states surrounding Delaware, such as Pennsylvania and Maryland, led to spikes in traffic on VisitDelaware.com from those areas. The newly released data says 2.7 million people visited Delaware from Maryland in 2015 and 1.3 million people from Pennsylvania. Three quarters of Delaware tourists came from Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg.

“The efforts of the Delaware Tourism Office to bring in out-of-state visitors are working, and the new brand is a big part of that,” said Linda Parkowski, Delaware Tourism director. “We see its effect in the website traffic and the visitation numbers. Additionally, back in September FutureBrand, an international brand consulting firm, determined it is one of the two best statewide campaigns in America.”

Spending time on the beach, dining and shopping continued to be the most popular activities for visitors.

“As a Delaware native, I know how fortunate we are to have such wonderful tourism assets all over the state to attract visitors and improve quality of life for residents,” Gov. Carney said.

Moreover, Delaware’s seasonal second home market remained strong with almost 40,000 homes having an estimated rental value of $1.1 billion.

While most of the homes are at the beach, Delaware’s other regions also showed strength New Castle County accounts for 47 percent of spending by tourists while Sussex and Kent counties make up 41 and 12 percent, respectively.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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