There’s no doubt about it. Delaware’s tourism industry is a revenue generator. It brings money to great businesses. And it creates hundreds of millions of dollars a year for state and local government - $486 million in 2015, to be exact.
The money that supports government budgets comes from a wide variety of sources that have been stable and growing over the past decade – group tours bring entire busloads of people to play at the casinos or out-of-state cars driving through tolls on the way to the beaches or participants in youth sports events paying the Public Accommodation Tax (PAT) when they stay at a hotel.
Without tourism the average Delaware household would owe an extra $1,417 in taxes annually.
The state tourism office, working with county convention and visitors bureau, chambers of commerce, attractions, restaurants, and hotels, has a proven record return on investment and success in drawing both tourists and their money to Delaware. Each year since 2008, when a renewed focus was put on tourism, visitation to Delaware and its economic impact have increased.
The new “Endless Discoveries” brand had a positive effect on travel during its first year in the marketplace. Delaware had half a million more visitors in 2015 than in 2014. That number is expected to have gone up again when the 2016 figures are available.
This May the Delaware Tourism Office rolled out three major new initiatives designed to enhance the visitor experience while in state:
• The tourism office also partnered with state parks to bring 50 new, attractive and “Endless Discoveries” branded umbrellas to Delaware Seashore State Park for rental.
• DTO, along with Delaware State Parks, partnered with GeoSwap, a new smartphone application from students at the University of Delaware, which is designed to make sure users know about all the great things happening around them. In the three days following the announcement, GeoSwap saw 1,000 new downloads.
• Perhaps most importantly, DTO released the newest version of the statewide travel guide. Designed directly from feedback provided by Delaware travelers, this guide is the most informational and inspirational the office has ever produced.
All of this has been a great way to kick off the summer season. New attractions at the beaches, including Big Chill Beach Club, Lefty’s Alley and Eats and Hudson Fields, are sure to make summer 2017 the state’s most fun yet.
The summer season is essential to Delaware’s tourism industry. More than half of the $4.4 billion visitors spend in the state in a year (2015) is spent between May and September. Most tourists stay in a hotel or a rental property, and those staying at rentals spend nearly three times as much as the average visitor during their stay in Delaware. Nearly 38,000 of the state’s seasonal second homes are in Sussex County.
Legislators this session have been looking at HB130, which would extend the Public Accommodation Tax to vacation rentals, which are not currently included in the state’s 8-percent PAT.
There is so much potential for tourism in Delaware. It is a growth industry, a long-term, sustainable revenue source and an important component of the state’s overall economic future. DTO looks forward to continuing its vital promotional efforts to help Delaware thrive and help share the state’s endless discoveries.