Tourism in Thurston County rebounding and changing

Annette Pitts, CEO of Experience Olympia & Beyond, presented today


Annette Pitts, Chief Executive Officer of Experience Olympia & Beyond, gave a formal presentation on the state of local tourism at the September forum of the Thurston County Chamber today at the Olympia Hotel at Capitol Lake.

Hired in June 2021, Pitts said that the evolution of tourism was on its way throughout the county.

“Tourism will evolve,” Pitts said. “Change is just going to keep happening over and over. And as our travelers change, we have to be more flexible, and far more resourceful. The time of operating in a silo is over, for all of us.”

Pitts stated that there were various data indicators that tourism was already rebounding, but with various twists and turns.

“Please don’t look at the numbers too long, you’ll go cross-eyed,” Pitts said.

There was a 25% dip in economic revenue in 2020, generating about $345 million in area tourism businesses. But 2021 is showing a return of 7.4% growth above 2020 numbers. And there is a 38% change in revenue growth, from $600k to $966k, in short term rentals throughout the area.

“We’re going to be riding this rollercoaster for a while… If anybody’s been on a serious rollercoaster, sometimes you come out with a little bit of whiplash. And I think our industry as a whole is nursing a wicked case of emotional and economic whiplash,” Pitts said. “Let’s be prepared that our neck’s is gonna hurt for little a bit.”

Pitts’ entire presentation is available on demand at Thurston Community Media.


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