Tourism industry employs more than 400,000 in Ohio

| March 26, 2015

COSHOCTON – A group of local business owners and employees associated with the tourism industry in Coshocton County and surrounding areas met at Central Ohio Technical College on Tuesday, March 24 to learn more about the industry and how to keep it thriving in our community from Melinda Huntley, Executive Director of Ohio Travels Association.

“A lot of our workforce doesn’t understand they’re part of our tourism industry,” said Huntley. “We don’t appreciate what’s in our own backyard as an industry. It’s about recognizing the sheer impact of our travel economy.”

Huntley stated that $30 billion was spent in Ohio by tourists in 2013. She broke that number down into percentiles by category. Twenty-five percent was spent on food, 31 percent on travel, 16 percent on recreation, 11 percent on lodging, 14 percent on retail, and two percent on air travel. She also stated that 42 percent of Ohio tourism comes from other Ohioans. Eighty-one percent of tourists to Ohio came for a one-day event and only 19 percent spent the night for one night or more. Those who stayed spent three times as much money than those who did not.

Tourism is defined as people who travel a 50-mile or more radius to their traveling destination. Overall, tourism enhances the quality of life in the area and also boosts local businesses. The industry can also increase jobs, not only in the tourism industry, but in the community as a whole. Tourism-related construction was $3 billion from 2008-2012 in Ohio, which also helped to create jobs. Eight billion was spent by businesses in the tourism industry to purchase goods and services to their customers and saw a 1.5 percent increase in employment. In total, there are 405,000 Ohio jobs sustained by tourism, and the industry is growing twice as fast than any other. It generates 2.7 billion in state and local taxes, and without tourism, each household would pay an additional $650 in taxes.

Huntley stated that perception is everything when it comes to promoting your location and that each tourist location should have a brand that can connect with other people and bring businesses to the area.

“Do we not have brands in our community to attract other business?” she said. “Sure we do. We’re sitting in one of the biggest brands right now. (Roscoe Village) It’s heritage. It’s culture. It’s what makes a community unique. What unique story do you have to tell?”

She then asked everyone to play a game where she flashed a location across the screen and everyone closed their eyes and thought about how they personally perceive that place. The location was Iraq, and after everyone closed their eyes thinking of sand and violence, Huntley showed a picture of a beautiful river with grassy hills and trees, a place in Iraq. Her point was that perception is everything. How people perceive your community depends on if they want to travel to the area or not.

Although tourism is important economically and socially to many places in the world, it is often overlooked due to that fact that is it not thought of as an industry, local residents most likely have no family or friendly connections with tourists, and tourists interfere with our daily lives and ‘get in the way’. However, for the state of Ohio, promoting tourism individually is important as Ohio receives only $8 million to promote tourism compared to $24 million in other states.

The tourism industry has 405,000 employees in the state and is a great job opportunity for those who are undecided on their career path or who want to make the industry a career for life. Whether you are working the counter at a museum, selling hot dogs at an amusement park, or waitressing at a local diner, you are a part of the tourism industry. Huntley concluded her presentation by discussing the strengths and challenges of the industry. Jan Myers, director of the Coshocton County CVB, led a round-table discussion, and each business representative present gave a brief update on how their business was promoting local tourism.

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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