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Columbus tourism contributes to $1B in tax revenue

Lantern file photo

Columbus raked in the cash last year.

Experience Columbus recently released a study showing the impact tourism has had on Columbus, Ohio, and Franklin County. During 2011, leisure visitors, sports and arts fans, convention attendees and business travelers spent $7.8 billon at local businesses, generating $1.04 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue, according to a press release.

The report shows that Columbus tourism has supported 61,000 jobs or 9 percent of the jobs in the city and Franklin County, according to the release.

“Tourism is a significant and huge economic engine in our community that is truly effective,” said Paul Astleford, president and CEO of Experience Columbus. “This report just goes to show how much an economic engine tourism is for all communities, especially thriving tourist places like New York, Orlando, Fla. and Las Vegas. Tourism dollars is an enormous industry that is so competitive among communities since everybody is trying to get their share.”

Astleford said the University District is significant in generating revenue, since parents and students travel to Columbus and spend money for sporting events and visits to campus.

Retail, which made up 24 percent of tourism sales, was attributed as being the greatest revenue generator in Columbus, followed by food and beverage at 17 percent, transportation at 13 percent, attractions, recreation and entertainment at 10 percent and lodging at 7 percent.

“I think it’s great, especially in this tough economy, I think the opening of the (Hollywood) Casino might also be helping that growth as well,” said Cora Banner, a manager of Wendy’s at 1510 N. High St.

The Hollywood Casino opened in Columbus on Oct. 8. It is the third of four voter-approved casinos to open in the state.

The Experience Columbus report was compiled by researchers at Oxford Economics, and showed sales related to visitor spending in the Central Ohio area which was nearly $9.5 billion in 2011, up from $8.1 billion in 2009, according to the press release.

However, David Gischel, a general manager for the Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant on 1603 N. High St., hasn’t seen much change in his business or Columbus.

“I haven’t seen the change myself. We sometimes may get an influx of customers if certain events come to Columbus,” Gischel said.

The study indicated tourism now supports one in every 12 salaried jobs in Franklin County. However, total jobs in Franklin County are recovering from the national recession and are still down from the peak during 2007, according to the release.

“Sales have increased for us as we’re doing more business than previous years, I think this is very good news and Franklin County is the beneficiary of this even in a recession,” said George Kentris, a co-owner of Taco Bell in the Northwest Ohio franchise and campus location.

Astleford said Columbus visitors should feel welcome while in the city.

“Visitors are open to our community, and it’s good that visitors see our community, I hope we give all visitors a big hug when they arrive,” Astleford said. 

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