Travel and tourism generated $5.3 billion in economic impact to local communities in the Cincinnati region, and supported more than 80,000 hospitality industry jobs, according to a new report commissioned by the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, meetNKY and the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network.

The study, conducted by Tourism Economics and Longwoods International, measures the size, strength and reach of the travel and tourism industry across the 15-county Cincinnati region.

Study highlights include 2017 increases in visitors, visitor spending, job creation and tax revenues. Visitor spending was up more than four percent year-over-year, beating the national average of three percent growth.

“Tourism and visitor spending are strong, and there's a direct impact on the region’s overall economic vitality,” said Julie Calvert, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The results of this year’s study are the best we've ever tracked, and by attracting more visitors, we drive new  business opportunities, stronger talent attraction and a better quality of life for our residents. That's the power of tourism, and it reflects our community's commitment to creating incredible visitor experiences and a welcoming environment."

Key findings from the study include:
  • The Cincinnati region hosted 26.6 million visitors in 2017, up 2 percent from 2016.
  • Visitors spent $5.3 billion, an increase of more than 4 percent year-over-year.
  • The travel and tourism industry supported more than 80,000 jobs, a 3.5 percent increase over 2016.
  • Employees in the travel and tourism industry earned more than $2.7 billion in income, up 5.1 percent over 2016.
  • Tourism generates $1.2 billion in tax revenue, including state and local taxes, offsetting the average household’s taxes by $653 yearly.
  • Since 2009, the Cincinnati region’s growth in visitor volume and spending, hotel room demand, and hospitality employment has outpaced the growth of the United States in these measures.
“Our dynamic combination of regional attributes give visitors an experience hard to replicate in any other destination,” said Eric Summe, president and CEO of meetNKY | Northern Kentucky CVB. “These results reflect our dedication to collaborating on promoting this unique place where north and south converge, where bourbon and beer connect and our merging of Midwest ingenuity and southern hospitality.”

Visitors to the area in 2017 were primarily regional, according to the study. The largest markets of origin for overnight visitors were Indianapolis, Cleveland and Lexington. Chicago, New York and Nashville were also on the list.

“The growth in awareness and engagement with our unique and unmistakably Cincinnati regional travel and entertainment experiences, including the region’s culinary gems, arts and culture, and entrepreneurial business climate, has never been stronger,” said Linda Antus, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network. “When tourism spending is strong and growing, new restaurants, attractions, hotels and shops continue to invest, creating more jobs, expanding our tax base and adding new vibrancy to the visitor experience.”

Tourism measurement is defined by visitor demand and spans nearly a dozen sectors including lodging, recreation, retail, real estate, air passenger transport, food and beverage, car rental, taxi services and travel agents. Regular measurement informs strategic decisions about the promotion of the region’s substantial tourism offerings.

Since 2004, the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau and meetNKY have collaborated leisure tourism marketing efforts through the Regional Tourism Network. This innovative partnership has worked to drive growth in the positive impact tourism creates in our communities, creating jobs and generating tax revenues.

Click here to learn more about the economic impact of tourism in the Cincinnati region.