COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Chew on this… annually, Ohio sees 222 million tourists that generate $46 billion in economic output for the state and who support 429,000 jobs. That is a bite of success for the state of Ohio, according to the U.S. Travel Association, who lauded Columbus for being especially successful, Thursday.
The group held the second stop of their Travel Works Roadshow in Columbus, after kicking it off in St. Louis, Missouri on Tuesday.
Industry insiders and business leaders attended the event in the brand new Mitchell Hall at Columbus State Community College, to hear politicians talk about what they have done to help bring about this boom in tourism.
When you boil down to it, hard work is how they got it done and as a result, Columbus is one of several places in Ohio poised to profit in a big way, according to Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.
“I believe that the next decade for Columbus is going to be our greatest with respect to travel, tourism and hospitality,” he said.
Ginther is an outspoken promoter of Columbus, traveling far and wide to spread the word of how great his city is. His efforts, and those of many others, have had great success in helping bring conventions and events to the city.
In 2018, $7 billion was spent in Columbus by nearly 42 million day and overnight visitors to the city, according to the U.S. Travel Association. They say, that kind of spending is helping lower the taxes of every Columbus resident.
But, this success has not been met without challenges.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, domestically, the biggest threat to travel is options — options for doing anything but traveling.
On the international side of things, they say the biggest obstacle is the dollar itself. In many cases, it is simply easier for international travelers to visit other countries from a financial standpoint.
President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association Roger Dow says we could also be doing a better job presenting a more welcoming message to international travelers, and that starts at the top with the president of the United States.
“There’s been so much rhetoric about security, and security is important, and I’ve told the president that over and over again, we believe in security. Without security there is no travel, but we also can have a more welcoming message and that’s all of our jobs,” Dow said.
When asked if they thought President Donald Trump needed to work on his public image as it is viewed by international travelers, members of Ohio’s congressional delegation had mixed responses.
“It could use a little work, I think,” said Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. “But this country is more than any one individual.”
“That has no impact whatsoever,” said Rep. Troy Balderson of Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. “People aren’t coming here because of the president of the United States, they’re coming here because they want to go hike the Hocking Hills.”