SPOKANE, Wash. – City officials in both Spokane and Coeur d'Alene are expecting to see an increase in tourism in the coming year.
Both qualities, along with our annual events, big-name concerts, and large conference spaces, have made Spokane an attractive destination for new visitors, city officials say.
In 2017, Spokane had quite the year, with the Garth Brooks concert series selling out to about 62,000 country music fans. Even Riverfront Park's newest attraction, the ice ribbon, has already seen more than 25,000 visitors.
Visit Spokane said those numbers have them looking ahead to 2018 and expecting them only to grow. Cheryl Kilday, the President and CEO of Visit Spokane, said their projections stem from high room demands in hotels like the Davenport Grand Hotel, along with larger groups coming to the Spokane Convention Center.
“Spokane is so attractive because we have so many things,” she said. “It's the magic in the bundle is one way we like to say it.”
Kilday said there are some major events in 2018 they are also anticipating will attract visitors to the Lilac City; The Crave Culinary event will be in its second year, Restaurant Week, and the completion of the Looff Carrousel building in the spring are all expected to draw crowds.
“We're really trying to make sure we get that splash out there so people are coming and they'll come again and again, because that's what they do when they come to Spokane,” she said.
Kilday added since Spokane is on the way to Yellowstone National Park from Seattle, they are looking for ways to appeal to those visitors, and encourage them to spend time here in Spokane along the way.
Coeur d'Alene also projecting more tourists
Across the state line, officials with the Coeur d'Alene Convention and Visitor Bureau said they are also anticipating more tourists this year.
Mark Robitaille, the executive director, said they have seen anywhere from 5 to 9 percent increases of tourists each year for the last five to seven years.
Robitaille said they did a survey a year and a half ago and found visitors were looking for more activities, rather than just outdoor recreations, and that finding has changed some of their event planning.
“We have numerous events…all the time that keep people interested,” he said. “We have our outdoor recreation that keep people interested…but also our events downtown.”
Events like the first-ever Mac and Cheese festival next weekend at the Coeur d'Alene Resort. Officials from the Downtown Coeur d'Alene Association said they expect as many as 1,700 visitors to attend.