2016 was a record-setting year for sports tourism spending in the Wenatchee Valley. Bolstered by economic impact in a wide variety of categories, an estimated $8.35 million was spent here by visitors participating in or attending tournaments and events, according to analysis compiled by Wenatchee Valley Sports. This is up 9.7% over the previous high, set in 2015. Sports impact has been measured in the Wenatchee Valley annually since 2007. Youth baseball/softball led the way at $1.17m, followed by adult softball at $1.06m. Next, in order, are Special Olympics Winter Games, ski racing at Mission Ridge, running, and youth basketball.
Overall numbers were bolstered by the US Figure Skating Regionals in October at Town Toyota Center, State Gymnastics competition in April, and strong showings by swimming, youth hockey and cycling. The largest single event in terms of economic impact was the Washington Winter Games Special Olympics in March, generating an estimated $616,937. They will return for their 26th year here March 3-5. It’s important to note that these figures include spending only by visitors, not locals, and for tournaments and events, not general recreation. Two popular local entities that provide strong overall economic impact are the Wenatchee Wild and Wenatchee AppleSox. Those teams and others such as the Rams and Wenatchee FC were heavily dependent on spending by locals…very important in terms of overall economic impact, but not so on the tourism side of the equation.
A number of business categories reap the benefits of sports tourism, most notably lodging and food. It is estimated these events drove 27,676 room nights in 2016, also a record, and an increase of 2,000+ over the previous year. This contributed to the success lodging in the Wenatchee Valley experienced in 2016, which realized a 2.1% overall increase in occupancy for the year.