11 million tourists visited Thurston County last year, says report

July garnered the most visitors, while February had the least


Experience Olympia & Beyond Chief Executive Officer Annette Pitts shared in her report that an estimated 11,081,763 tourists visited Thurston County from January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023.

Olympia ranks 2nd in terms of visitors, with 2,544,156; Lacey with 2,170,172; and Tumwater with 1,853,629.

Pitts met with Thurston’s Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) on Monday, April 8, to share updates on the tourism initiative.

According to their website, Experience Olympia & Beyond is the official destination marketing organization for Thurston County and each of its communities.

Data showed that visitors usually flock within July and visit less in February. An estimated 1.6 million tourists visit during weekends, and more than 800,000 visit during weekdays.

Most visitors are aged 45-64 (34.1%), followed by 25-44 (29.7%), over 65 (21.8%), and 16-24 (14.3%).

Working on Tourism

“Believe it or not, one of the questions that I have been asked a few times in the last few years is why tourism matters at all in the area… at the very highest level, tourism provides a first date with Thurston County,” said Pitts.

Pitts added that tourism is like “first dates” where “sometimes that’s it” and “sometimes you catch people for a lifetime.”

“If you build a place where people want to visit, then you're gonna have a place that people want to live; if you build a place that people want to live, then you're gonna have a place where people want to do business; if you have a place that people want to do business, you're gonna build a place where people want to invest; and if you've built a place that's been invested in then again you get a place where people want to visit,” Pitts explained the tourism’s cycle of impact.

Pitts also emphasized that tourism is economic development with a specific focus, and it provides building blocks to community quality of life and builds economy.


3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • JoanneMc

    Sorry, I don't think the math adds up!

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • rockyw98502

    I agree that there must be some double-counting going on. For 2023, records indicate that 4.74 million people visited Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. I seriously doubt that Thurston County had more than 11 million different visitors...maybe this is a measure of "visitations"?? not that anyone is paying attention......whatever.

    Betty Watson

    Steamboat Penninsula

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • TheGreatAnon

    11 million!?! My Aunt Fanny

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this