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Delaware Tourism hit new heights in 2021 with strong economic comeback from pandemic

Delaware Tourism Office
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Delaware Tourism announces a record economic performance in 2021 as it celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week.

Delaware saw a record 9.8 million overnight visitors in 2021, the most recent year studied by the annual report commissioned by the tourism office, and total visitor volume rose by more than 17%.

On top of that tourism contributed $4 billion to the state’s gross domestic product in 2021 while being the 4th largest private sector employer in the state. Tourism comprised 9% of all private sector jobs.

Visitor spending topped $5.9 billion - a 30% increase from 2020 and a new record, of course the pandemic started in March 2020 - limiting tourism that year.

That increase was fueled by higher visitor volume, longer stays, more spending-per-trip, and inflation according to the study.

Daily spending per person was 165% higher than the national average according to the study by Rockport Analytics and Longwoods International.

Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock says the numbers show why tourism is vital to the state’s economy.

"Tourism is our fourth largest employer, and it is critical to the economic health of the state. It is the source of income for lots and lots of Delaware families, and it continues to grow in importance. And I think that's going to continue for many years to come," said Bullock.

The state economy kept 66 cents of each tourism dollar spent in the state in 2021.

Delaware Tourism Office director Jessica Welch says tourism is not only back but ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

"These numbers show that we're not only coming back from the pandemic, but we're exceeding the levels pre-pandemic. So we're seeing even more people come to Delaware, stay overnight, stay in our hotels, visit our restaurants or shops, all of that,” said Welch. “So we're recovering and every state I think is recovering, but we're recovering kind of on another level as well."

Tourism-initiated tax receipts hit $1 billion for the first time, contributing $620 million state and local taxes

The study International estimates if Delaware collected zero tourism dollars, households would pay an additional $1,608 in taxes to maintain current tax revenue totals.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.