The Delaware County Convention and Visitors Bureau says tourism was one of the driving components in Delaware County’s economy in 2015 with an impact of $1.3 billion in sales.
Deb Shatzer, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, presented a recent study conducted by Longwoods International and Tourism Economics on behalf of Tourism Ohio to county commissioners on Thursday.
“It’s an 85 percent increase since 2005,” she said “Tourism is one of the largest industries in the state.”
Shatzer defines a tourist as anyone living and traveling from more than 50 miles to visit the county for short period of time. The definition also excludes anyone who travels to work in Delaware County.
Tourism generated tax revenues in the millions of dollars for the county, Shatzer said.
“County sales and income taxes totaled $33.7 million in revenue,” she said.
Shatzer said one in every 11 jobs is supported by tourism revenue including indirect employment and sales.
Indirect sales is everything from supply and services to a tourism business. “It has to come from somewhere,” Shatzer said.
“Tourism supported 11,349 jobs in 2014-2015 with wages totaling $276.2 million,” she said.
Downtown Delaware has a large variety of restaurants, attracting a new trend of culinary tourism.
“You can eat really upscale or even down home in Delaware,” Shatzer said. “Culinary tourism is the new big thing now.”
Shatzer said the county’s number one industry is retail trade with recreation and entertainment running a close second. Others in the top five include food and beverage, transportation and lodging.
“Our state parks will have over a million visitors in a year,” she said. “We have two state parks.”
Shatzer said central Ohio is second in Ohio for tourism with Delaware County placing second out of the 10 counties that compose central Ohio. Franklin County is first.
Tourism sales growth increased 8.7 percent in Delaware County, 5.4 percent in central Ohio and 4.9 percent in the overall state for 2014-2015, Shatzer said.
Shatzer said the study is conducted annually for Ohio but county data is included only biannually. The next study should include numbers from the Columbus Outlets mall in eastern Delaware County and possibly the planned IKEA store, she said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.