2017 Travel Spending in Gilliam, Sherman, and Wheeler Counties

by Dallas Fridley

November 29, 2018

Dean Runyan Associates (www.deanrunyan.com) recently released Oregon Travel Impacts, a study detailing the significance of the travel industry in Oregon and its 36 counties. According to the study, direct travel spending in Oregon reached $11.8 billion in 2017.

Travel spending was concentrated in Oregon’s urban areas although urban Oregon was less dependent on travel generated employment. Travel spending in urban Oregon counties, including Clackamas, Lane, Marion, Multnomah, and Washington, generated about 2 percent of its 2016 total employment. In all other Oregon counties, travel generated employment represented a much higher 8 percent of total employment. In Gilliam County, travel spending generated just 3.5 percent of its 2016 employment total – but still above urban Oregon. Travel spending in Sherman County produced 4.3 percent of its 2016 employment, about the same as Wheeler County’s 4.4 percent.
Direct travel spending in Gilliam County totaled $4.5 million in 2017 – an increase of $0.1 million or 4.4 percent compared with 2016’s $4.4 million. Overnight visitors represented the biggest slice of travel spending, shelling out $3.2 million in 2017. Food services led visitor spending in Gilliam County, at $1.2 million, followed closely by accommodations, at $1.0 million. Together, accommodation and food services captured just over half (51%) of Gilliam County’s 2017 destination spending. Food stores captured $0.7 million in visitor spending (16%), while arts, entertainment, and recreation generated $0.6 million and retail raked in $0.5 million.
Direct travel spending in Sherman County rose to $5.3 million in 2017, an increase of 6.3 percent or $0.3 million over 2016. Overnight visitors spent $4.0 million with accommodations alone bringing in $1.5 million or 29 percent. Food services followed closely with $1.4 million in visitor spending (27%), while arts, entertainment, and recreation captured $0.8 million (16%).

Wheeler County’s travel spending totaled $3.0 million in 2017, an increase of 4.4 percent or $0.2 million over 2016. Overnight visitors spent $2.1 million, with food services grabbing the biggest slice, at $0.8 million or 29 percent. Visitor spending in accommodations ranked second, at $0.6 million (21%). Spending on arts, entertainment, and recreation totaled $0.4 million, and food stores also brought in $0.4 million (14%).

Accommodation and food services dominated Gilliam County’s 2017 travel employment trends, producing 30 out of 50 jobs generated by travel spending across all industries. Travel spending generated 10 jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation, while retail (including gasoline) produced 10. Travel spending supported 60 jobs in Sherman County with accommodation and food services representing the bulk, with 40. In Wheeler County, travel spending generated 30 jobs led by accommodation and food services with 20.
Overnight travelers spent about $112 in Gilliam County per person, averaging $46 per day over a 2.4-night length of stay. In Sherman County, overnight travelers spend $108 per person, while Wheeler County’s overnight visitors spent $76. Overnight traveler expenditures in the hotel, motel, and short-term vacation rental (STVR) group were quite similar for each county, ranging from $362 to $366 per trip, while the average party size was 2.5 persons.

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