Wasco County Travel Spending Down $48 Million in 2020

by Dallas Fridley

March 22, 2022

Dean Runyan Associates (https://www.deanrunyan.com/) released The Economic Impacts of Travel in Oregon (2020p), a study detailing the significance of the travel industry in Oregon and its 36 counties. According to the study, direct travel spending in Oregon fell to $6.5 billion in 2020, a drop of 49.5% from 2019’s $12.8 billion. Here’s a link to the study at Travel Oregon: https://industry.traveloregon.com/resources/research/oregon-travel-impacts-1991-2020-dean-runyan-associates/.

Direct travel spending in Wasco County fell to $57.6 million in 2020 – a drop of 45.2% from 2019’s $105.1 million. Overnight visitors represented the largest slice of travel spending, shelling out $41.5 million in 2020 (72%). Overnight visitor spending fell by $22.1 million, down from 2019’s $63.6 million.
Accommodations led all commodities purchased in 2020, capturing $18.8 million in Wasco County visitor spending. Accommodation spending fell 27.6% in 2020, a loss of $7.2 million compared with 2019’s $26.0 million. Accommodation accounted for about 15% of Wasco County’s $37.6 million travel spending loss.

Food services ranked second, with $13.9 million in 2020 visitor purchases, representing about $1 out of $4 travel dollars. Sales in food services fell by $16.3 million in 2020, a loss of 53.8% compared with 2019’s $30.2 million peak. Food services accounted for 34% of Wasco County’s 2020 travel spending losses.

Arts, entertainment, and recreation also sustained a significant travel spending loss, dropping by $10.7 million or 71.6% in 2020. Just over $1 out of $5 lost travel dollars were taken from arts, entertainment, and recreation.

Retail sales fell to $5.9 million in 2020, a loss $6.6 million or 53.1%. Retail sales accounted for 14% of Wasco County’s 2020 travel spending losses.

Overnight visitors to Wasco County logged nearly 0.8 million person-nights in 2020, well below 2019’s 1.1 million. Overnight travelers spent about $222 in Wasco County per person, averaging $93 per day over a 2.4 night stay. Traveling parties averaged 2.6 persons, spending $238 per day or $578 for the trip. Hotel, motel and short-term rental (STR) stays generated much higher visitor expenditures than other types of overnight accommodation.
Travel industry employment fell by 300 jobs in 2020, a loss of nearly 19%. Accommodation and food services dominated Wasco County’s travel generated employment, much like its travel spending. Travel spending supported 1,300 jobs in 2020, with accommodation and food services totaling 870 or nearly 67%. Arts, entertainment, and recreation sustained a loss of 150 (-29.8%), dropping to 330 jobs, while accommodation and food services cut 110 (-11.1%).


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