A thriving tourism scene is the most visible proof of a city’s recovery. Take a look around. A bustling waterfront, lively markets, restaurants and museums — Seattle’s recovery is happening. And we all have a continued stake to support it this summer.
Last summer was a tragic reminder of how fragile the travel and hospitality industry is. Typically, our summer hotel occupancy sits at about 89%. Last summer, it declined to a staggering 19%. An all-time low.
Yet despite the devastation, Seattle never lost its soul. In fact, we became more resilient than ever. We saved lives because of it. The first epicenter of the pandemic, Seattle will be remembered as the metropolitan model for fighting the virus. Today, we are regarded as one of the top cities in vaccination progress.
Seattleites were called on to do what was needed to protect one another — as we have time and time again. And we are reaching the homestretch of recovery because of it.
But this summer will be a critical test. And it will take an all-in effort from all of us to move the needle.
While we are seeing many industries in Seattle return to a pre-pandemic normal, hospitality is still lagging. Because Washington was rightfully cautious in reopening, we’ve got a longer road ahead for catching up, especially compared to our peer cities across the U.S.
Our downtown hotel occupancy is currently at 42%, about 20% lower than the national average. While many cities have major festivals on the docket, we will have another year without our mainstays (Capitol Hill Block Party, Seafair and Bumbershoot). A total of 82 citywide conventions previously booked at the Washington State Convention Center, representing $580 million in lost economic impact, have canceled. And about 40% of people who work in tourism lost their employment in 2020.
It’s a reality we can’t move away from. And addressing it will take movement from within our region.
So this summer, we ask that you consider adding local and regional tourism to your travel plans — supporting Seattle restaurants, attractions and hotels that still need your business. Your business is valuable and will determine how successful we are in recovery.
Here are a few ways you might consider helping:
∙ Take a day trip across the city and immerse yourself in a new neighborhood.
∙ Kids at camp? Escape to one of Seattle’s hotels for a staycation. Many will be offering overnight incentives this summer.
∙ That new to-go restaurant favorite that you discovered during the pandemic? Try it in person.
∙ Soak up the sunshine and take a day at Pike Place Market. Or enjoy the AC and explore one of Seattle’s many museum exhibits.
∙ Follow the hidden gems of local celebrities, through our #IKnowSeattle campaign.
∙ Use this as your excuse to finally getting around to visiting that spot on your list.
As someone who’s worked in tourism for 45 years, travel is ingrained in my soul. I believe travel is the most enriching and powerful activity someone can experience.
But the magic of travel isn’t quantified or defined by the number of miles traveled. And in fact, Seattle 2021 is worth rediscovering.