Yakima Valley sees $30M increase in tourism, biggest jump in over a decade

    Yakima Valley sees $30M increase in tourism, biggest jump in over a decade <p>{/p}

    YAKIMA, Wash.- Yakima has become a popular attraction in recent years, bringing in more money from tourism than ever before.

    An annual report released from Yakima Valley Tourism shows in the last three years, revenue from tourism steadily increased by a few million dollars. But just in the last year, it sky rocketed by 30 million dollars, totaling out to 410 million dollars.

    President and CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism John Cooper says the big jump is due to a increase in visitor spending, and the cost of services in the area rising.

    "Sometimes a hotel rate may go up, or their fuel cost goes up and that has an effect. But when people are traveling they're spending more," said Cooper.

    Cooper says the big increase didn't just come from one main attraction. He says it's a combination of events like wine tastings, outdoor activities, and sporting events that happen year round in Yakima.

    "More people travel during the spring and summer months for leisure, vacation and personal travel. We have conferences and conventions happening throughout the year and of course sports are spread out throughout the year, so I would say one season has a stronger sector than the others," said Cooper.

    Many sectors within tourism have also hit a record in revenue.

    Rich Austin over at the Yakima Valley Sports Commission tells Action News they held over 500 sporting events last year and brought in more money than ever before.

    "The estimated impact from those events was an increase of eight percent in 2017. It's the first time that our estimated economic impact was over 50 million dollars," said Austin.

    With more tourism attractions happening in the valley, Cooper says it's created more jobs. The annual report shows the valley has gained nearly 4,000 jobs in areas like retail, restaurants, hotels and tourism jobs.

    To generate more future tourism opportunities, The city of Yakima has approved expanding the convention center over the next two years.

    The expansion will double the exhibit hall and add more lobby and storage space.

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