A record 9 million people visited Delaware in 2016, marking increases in visitors, dollars spent and an even greater impact on the state’s economy. The number of visitors has increased 2.1 million during the past eight years.
Those visitors contributed $3.3 billion – up $1.4 billion since 2008 – to Delaware’s gross domestic product in 2016, according to data released from the Delaware Tourism Office. Tourism is second only to the state's agriculture industry.
Tourism generated more than $504 million in taxes and fees for state and local governments in 2016.
Tourism continues to be an economic driver in Sussex County accounting for more than 40 percent – $1.9 billion – of all tourist dollars spent in the state. More than 18,000 people are employed in tourism-related jobs, one in every five jobs in Sussex County.
In Sussex, vacation rentals were at the top of tourism spending, totaling $1 billion. Visitors spent $280 million on dining and another $224 million on shopping. They also spent $188 million on hotels, $71 million on entertainment and $30 million on transportation.
“Tourism is Delaware’s fourth largest private industry sector, employing almost 43,000 people,” said Linda Parkowski, acting director of the Division of Small Business, Development and Tourism. “As small business owners and entrepreneurs open new ventures or expand their existing businesses, the industry will continue to remain strong and move forward.”
Nearby metros remain the biggest sources of visitation for Delaware with people from Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Washington, D.C., accounting for more than two-thirds of travelers to the state.
Beaches, dining and tax-free shopping continue to be popular activities for visitors, who spent an average of $384 per trip in 2016.
Coastal homeowners earn $6.6 million through Airbnb
Sussex County's beach resorts are becoming a popular location for residents to share their homes through Airbnb, according to a recent report released by the company.
In 2017, Airbnb hosts in Sussex County earned more than $6.6 million; statewide, residents earned $8.1 million.
During the 2017 tourist season – from May 1 to Sept. 30 – Airbnb hosts in Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach earned $4.2 million, an increase of nearly 90 percent over 2016.
A total of 18,300 Airbnb guest arrivals occurred at Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach, Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, with Bethany Beach Airbnb hosts experiencing the largest jump in earnings.
The top cities of origin of guests during the period included Washington, D.C., Baltimore, New York City and Philadelphia.
Founded in August 2008 and based in San Francisco, Airbnb is a marketplace for people to list, discover and book accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone or tablet. Airbnb is in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries.