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Tourism important to Ohio, our region

Last week, the Department of Development’s TourismOhio division reported 2021 was the second-best year for visitor spending — $46.9 billion and 219 million visitors — which the division says supported approximately 411,000 jobs.

Those numbers show tourism in the Buckeye State is well on its way to recovering from the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they just miss equaling the state’s record year for tourism, 2019, when the state generated $48 billion in spending and 226 million visits, which supported 429,000 jobs.

The state, Gov. Mike DeWine pointed out, offers a wide variety of things to see and do, from destinations and experiences to an outstanding park system. And, according to Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio is within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the population of the United States.

“Whether you’re looking to do things a little low-key, whether you’re a foodie and you’re looking to explore different food scenes, really quite frankly what’s great about Ohio is just the variety of things to do,” said Mihalik. “Ohio is a great place to visit because it’s easy to get to, but it’s also a really easy place to travel around. And there’s so much to see and to do, from traveling up to Amish Country or traveling down to the Ohio River.”

The Ohio River is among the attractions for those considering whether to visit the Buckeye State. Consider our immediate region, for instance: The portion of state Route 7 that runs through our region has been designated as part of the Ohio River Scenic Byway.

There’s history to explore, including Steubenville’s Historic Fort Steuben and the Quaker Meeting House in Dillonvale. There are museums and events dedicated to the legendary actor Clark Gable in his hometown of Cadiz and George Armstrong Custer in his hometown of New Rumley. There are countless fairs and festivals held which attract visitors from all parts of the country — and the world — including the Dean Martin Festival and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Food Festival and, of course, Steubenville’s Nutcracker Village. There is the yearly meeting at Hollow Rock, and outdoor summer concerts in communities including Toronto, Steubenville, Mingo Junction and Brilliant.

Street fairs such as Wednesdays in Wintersville and First Fridays on Fourth in Steubenville draw visitors from across the Tri-State Area.

It all adds up to a lot of money for area communities — TourismOhio reports that the average spending per person on a day trip is $115, and the average per person for an overnight stay is $343.

All of that money coming into the state makes the dollars spent promoting tourism a great investment — TourismOhio reported that every dollar spent on its advertising campaign in 2021 resulted in $83 in direct visitor spending and $6 in tax revenue.

Area residents are aware of how wonderful our region can be, and just how much it has to offer, particularly for visitors who might have decided to vacation a little closer to home with gasoline prices being as high as they are.

We need to continue to ensure that those who operate our local attractions and events remain hospitable, helpful and good ambassadors for our communities. Doing so will help to guarantee that travelers will share their positive experiences with friends and neighbors, which will attract new visitors — and keep them coming back to enjoy all that our area has to offer.

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