Director's Message: New decade, new data, big impact
A new decade brings new opportunities! 2019 was an exciting and impactful year for the Delaware Tourism Office. Through the support of Governor Carney, Secretary Bullock and industry partners, new projects were launched, and the tourism industry has continued to thrive.
At the Delaware Tourism Office, we are proud and passionate about sharing the state’s “Endless Discoveries” with out-of-state travelers as well as the opportunity to support the industries’ small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
As we begin 2020, it’s time to reflect on the successes of 2019. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- The Delaware Tourism Office, in partnership with Firefly Music Festival, DART, Delaware Lottery and the Office of Highway Safety, launched the first-ever Visit Delaware Firefly Shuttle. The shuttle service transported concertgoers at Firefly Music Festival safely between the festival grounds at The Woodlands in Dover to/from hotels in central and northern Delaware and the Amtrak station in Wilmington. The service was so popular it sold out.
- Through a partnership with the Delaware Restaurant Association, we were proud to be part of the first-ever Women of Hospitality Conference, a memorable day of inspirational and informative panel discussions for women in the hospitality industry. The panelists included females restaurateurs from Delaware and around the Mid-Atlantic, as well nationally prominent women in the field including National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney and Denny Marie Post, CEO of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and former CEO of Red Robin restaurants.
- Sales and marketing efforts by the Delaware Tourism Office had a record-breaking year and we have continued efforts in sports tourism with the team's new sports sales leader, Ryan Wolfe.
- The Delaware Tourism Office hosted two educational workshops for the industry on integrating with TripAdvisor and using Google My Business to entice travelers to visit statewide locations. Through a partnership with the Google travel program, we also enhanced Delaware’s presence with new imagery and content across their platforms.
- Speaking of technology, our mobile app Delaware on Tap continued to grow with the addition of four new locations.
- Several hospitality-based businesses have received a $50,000 EDGE Grant from the Division of Small Business. To learn more and apply for the Spring 2020 round of EDGE Grants, please go to https://business.delaware.gov/edge/.
- Winter WonderFEST, home of the VisitDelaware.com ice rink, had a huge jump in attendance in 2019. More than 80,000 people attended the event at its new home at Hudson Fields in Milton, a substantial increase from the year before.
The most recent value of tourism data shows that the efforts to drive out-of-state visitation are working.
In 2018, a record 9.2 million visitors came to Delaware, accounting for $3.5 billion in economic impact. Those visitors paid $545.1 million in state and local taxes and fees. Without that, each Delaware household would have had to pay an additional $1,562 in taxes. Tourism means big business in Delaware.
2019 was a year of many accomplishments for the Delaware Tourism Office and the state tourism industry. As we move into 2020, we continue to plan new ways in which DTO can make a difference for this vital industry as well as ways we can highlight Delaware’s “Endless Discoveries.”
Travel not only provides economic impact to our state and employs thousands of our fellow Delawareans, but is an opportunity to bring joy into people’s lives. Come spark joy with DTO and as the Governor says “share the cool stuff to do” in our state.