The Cowboy State welcomed 8.67 million visitors in 2012 who spent a record $3.1 billion in the state, according to a new study commissioned by the Wyoming Office of Tourism.
The numbers represent a 4 percent increase over 2011's 8.34 million visitors. Meanwhile, the former record for visitor spending stood at $2.9 billion in 2008 before the worst of the recession. Officials say the figures are reassuring in that they show marketing efforts are having their desired effect.
"The fact that the number of visitors is up along with visitor spending has a very positive impact on the economy," said Diane Shober, director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism.
The study was conducted through the same research firm in Portland, Ore. that Cheyenne Frontier Days used to compile their visitor information data that was released earlier this week showing a $25 million contribution
from out-of-area visitors.
The tourism office spent $12 million during fiscal year 2012, including marketing.
Gov. Matt Mead said in a release he believes the state can build on the 2012's success for this year.
"Wyoming has so much to offer visitors and I am proud of the people in the state who show travelers our western hospitality," he said.
Local and state tax revenues, which heavily reflect visitor spending, also came in at a record $128 million, 7.6 percent more than 2011's $119 million, the former record.
The full report can be found at www.wyomingofficeoftourism.gov
Destinations like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park continue to draw tourists. Yellowstone boasted it's second-best year for visitation ever with 3.45 million recreational visitors. That number is only eclipsed by 2010's 3.64 million. Grand Teton posted its fourth-best year on record with more than 2.7 million visitors, less than 52,000 visitors shy of the 1998 record.
"Visitors come for our friendly people, our wide open vistas, abundant wildlife and to experience our rich western heritage," she said in a release. "Tourism continues to be a steady growth industry for Wyoming."
Tourism representatives will gather February 10-12 at Little America in Cheyenne for the 2013 Wyoming Governor's Hospitality & Tourism Conference. The purpose of the conference is to review trends, explore marketing opportunities and provide destinations and businesses with the knowledge and tools to market themselves. Learn more at www.wyominggovernorsconference.com.
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