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(October 22, 2019)

Omaha is experiencing nine straight years of tourism growth, according to new economic impact research done by Tourism Economics – an Oxford Economics Company.

The study shows 13.1 million visitors traveled to Omaha in 2018, a 6% increase over 2016, the last time the research was conducted. Those visitors spent a total of $1.3 billion while they were in Omaha, a 6.5% increase over 2016.

“Visitor spending increased $80 million in two years,” said Keith Backsen, executive director for Visit Omaha, the city’s official tourism authority. “That money is being spent at our local hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and attractions, which in turn creates jobs for our family, friends and neighbors.”

According to the research, the money visitors spend in our city supports 6% of all jobs in Omaha. The report states that 17,860 Omaha jobs, one in every 17, are linked to tourism. Half of every visitor dollar spent in Omaha is spent eating, drinking and shopping. But the report also states that the largest growth came in the amount of money visitors are spending on recreation, such as going to the zoo, museums, concerts, performances and sporting events. Recreational spending surpassed $200 million in 2018, increasing $14 million since 2016. “That speaks to the caliber of our events and attractions, each of which are keenly aware that they have to continually create new experiences to attract visitors,” added Backsen.

Tourism also supports our local way of life. Last year, out-of-town visitors paid $164 million in state and local taxes, which means when visitors spend their money here, it helps maintain the city and state services we all enjoy. The report states that each Douglas County household saves $750 a year in taxes because of visitor spending. If visitor spending were to disappear, taxes would go up, or city/state services would go down.

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