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Tourism spending still robust in Washington State

Whatcom County tourism has been a booming industry in recent years, so it'll be interesting to see if it continues if the national economy remains sluggish.

Dean Runyan Associates recently released the Washington State, County Travel Impacts 1991-2007 report. Visitors spent $453.7 million in Whatcom County in 2007, a 7.4 percent increase from 2006, according to the report. Tourism spending has become a significant part of this area's overall retail sales, which totaled $3.2 billion last year. Whatcom currently ranks fifth in the state for overall visitor spending, behind King, Snohomish, Pierce and Spokane counties.

What jumped out at me was what's been happening in the past four years - last year's tourism spending was 25.4 percent higher than in 2004. In the previous four years (2000-2003), the increase was just 10.4 percent. It should be noted that the 2000-to-2003 period was marked by a national recession, while the last four years has been a period of economic growth regionally.

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