The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive decline in visitors to Yakima County and Washington state, according to new figures from the Washington Tourism Alliance and Yakima Valley Tourism.
In 2020, 1.9 million people visited Yakima County, a 25% drop from the prior year. Tourism spending dropped by more — 29% — to $245 million, according to figures from Yakima Valley Tourism released Monday.
The drop in tourism volume and spending led to a decline in jobs and tax revenue. The number of direct jobs in the industry dropped by 22% year-to-year to 2,593, and tax revenue dropped by 31.5% to $34 million.
Yakima County, however, fared slightly better than the state. In 2020, 79.5 million people visited Washington state, a drop of 27%, according to figures from the Washington Tourism Alliance. Visitor spending dropped by 40% year-over-year to $13 billion. Direct jobs dropped by 27% to 119,157 jobs, and state and local tax revenue generated by visitors dropped by 32% to $1.5 billion.
While tourism has bounced back in recent months and more people are planning to travel, industry officials expect full recovery to take several years.