Last week, the Department of Development’s TourismOhio division announced that 2021 was the second-best year for visitor spending — $46.9 billion and 219 million visitors — which the division said supported about 411,000 jobs.
These numbers show that tourism in Buckeye State is well on its way to recovering from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they come close to matching the state’s record year for tourism, 2019, when the state generated $48 billion in spending and 226 million visits, which supported 429,000 jobs.
The state, Gov. Mike DeWine pointed out, offers a wide variety of things to see and do, from destinations and experiences to an outstanding park system. And, according to Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio is within a day’s drive of 60% of the population of the United States.
“Whether you’re looking to do things a little low-key, or you’re a foodie, and looking to explore different food scenes, frankly, what’s great about Ohio is just the variety of things to do” , Mihalik said. “Ohio is a great place to visit because it’s easy to get to, but it’s also a very easy place to travel. And there’s so much to see and do, whether it’s traveling all the way to Amish Country or cruising down to the Ohio River.
The Ohio River is among the attractions for those planning to visit Buckeye State. Consider our immediate area, for example: the portion of State Route 7 that runs through our area has been designated as part of the Ohio River Scenic Byway.
There’s history to explore, including historic Fort Steuben in Steubenville and the Quaker Meeting House in Dillonvale. There are museums and events dedicated to legendary actor Clark Gable in his hometown of Cadiz and to George Armstrong Custer in his hometown of New Rumley. There are countless fairs and festivals that attract visitors from all parts of the country – and the world – including the Dean Martin Festival and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Food Festival and, of course, the Nutcracker Village of Steubenville . There’s the annual meeting at Hollow Rock and outdoor summer concerts in communities such as Toronto, Steubenville, Mingo Junction and Brilliant.
Street fairs such as Wednesdays in Wintersville and First Fridays of the Fourth in Steubenville attract visitors from throughout the tri-state area.
This all adds up to a lot of money for communities in the area — TourismOhio reports that the average spend per person on a day trip is $115 and the average per person for an overnight stay is $343.
All that money coming into the state makes money spent promoting tourism a great investment – TourismOhio reported that every dollar spent on its advertising campaign in 2021 resulted in $83 in direct visitor spend and $6 of tax revenue.
Residents of the area are aware of the beauty of our region and all it has to offer, especially for visitors who may have decided to vacation a little closer to home, the prices of gasoline being as high as them.
We must continue to ensure that those who run our local attractions and events remain hospitable, helpful and good ambassadors for our communities. This will help ensure that travelers share their positive experiences with friends and neighbors, which will attract new visitors and keep them coming back to enjoy all that our region has to offer.