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States hit hardest by COVID-19’s impact on tourism

  • States hit hardest by COVID-19’s impact on tourism

    Travel is more than just a chance to get a change of scenery and take a break from everyday life. At the macro level, it’s a critical economic driver, especially for destinations that depend on tourism. Travelers in 2019 spent $1.1 trillion in the U.S., generating some $2.6 trillion in economic output, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The organization estimates that each American household would shell out almost $1,400 more in taxes if the country lacked the tax revenue that comes from travel and tourism.

    Americans took 1.9 billion trips for leisure in 2019. But in 2020, that number could look very different. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on tourism across the country. Thousands of flights have been canceled by U.S.-based airlines. Tourist attractions, like Disney World, Broadway shows, The Alamo, the Statue of Liberty, Smithsonian museums, and the Santa Monica Pier, have closed—sometimes with no scheduled reopening date. And even if there were places to visit safely, Americans may not have the financial means to travel after the financial blow they’ve taken from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

    Some states are being hit harder than others by COVID-19’s impact on tourism. Stacker used WalletHub’s “States Hit Hardest by COVID-19’s Impact on Tourism” study, published on April 14, 2020, to compile a list of the states most affected by the lack of travel and tourism due to COVID-19. The states are ranked by their total WalletHub score, which evaluated the states based on 10 different metrics across two categories: dependency on travel and the tourism industry and aggressiveness against coronavirus.

    Wondering how your state might be impacted by a lack of visitors? Read on to learn more about COVID-19’s effect on tourism and see where your state stands.

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  • #51. Arkansas

    - Total WalletHub score: 26.8
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #45
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #49

    Arkansas’ main tourism destination, the city of Hot Springs, is projecting huge losses as a result of the coronavirus. Three of the city’s best-known tourist attractions—the World's Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Bathhouse Row, and Oaklawn Racing—were shut down in March.

  • #50. Iowa

    - Total WalletHub score: 30.4
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #40
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #48

    Tourism is responsible for $9 billion of Iowa’s economy. With stay-at-home orders in place, some areas of the state saw major losses in revenue. The town of Ames, for example, as of April 29 had lost around $2.8 million in its hospitality market since the pandemic started.

  • #49. Oklahoma

    - Total WalletHub score: 30.9
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #43
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #46

    Travelers usually spend about $1 billion per year in Tulsa, Oklahoma, each year. With tourism at a standstill during the COVID-19 outbreak, the state set its hopes on a turnaround in 2021. The Tulsa Regional Tourism organization by early May had already begun to fill its 2021 calendar with events like a national bass fishing contest to draw visitors.

  • #48. Nebraska

    - Total WalletHub score: 31.3
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #37
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #50

    A lack of visitors during the pandemic, due to the cancellation of the in-person version of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting, may cost Omaha $21.3 million. The city of Grand Island, another tourist destination, is forecast to have a $15.4 million loss in its hotel and motel industry during the pandemic, according to April numbers provided by the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.

  • #47. Alabama

    - Total WalletHub score: 33.4
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #47
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #43

    The COVID-19 crisis is gutting Alabama’s tourism and hospitality sectors, putting tens of thousands of people out of work. In Mobile, around 13,000 of the city’s 17,000 hospitality workers were estimated to be unemployed as of April 23, according to the Huntsville Real-Time News.

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  • #46. Wisconsin

    - Total WalletHub score: 33.6
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #50
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #32

    From March 7 to April 4, COVID-19 caused a $642 million drop in travel spending in Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The tourism sector is banking on a recovery in the second half of 2020.

  • #45. Indiana

    - Total WalletHub score: 34.0
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #49
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #26

    While hotels in Indianapolis are typically 70% occupied, as of April 28 they had occupancy rates of just 7%, according to the Associated Press. Stats from Visit Indy show visitors to the city typically inject about $5.6 billion into the local economy.

  • #44. Mississippi

    - Total WalletHub score: 34.3
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #46
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #42

    The hotel industry in Mississippi may see its direct workforce decline by 15,000 jobs, based on March projections from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Including those who work in hotel-related jobs, those numbers climb to 33,000 people out of work. Hotel occupancy throughout the state was at 10% at the beginning of May, according to Visit Jackson President and CEO Rickey Thigpen. Normally at the same time of year, occupancy is at 60-70%.

  • #43. South Dakota

    - Total WalletHub score: 35.7
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #26
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #51

    South Dakota is seeing a 70% drop in visitor spending during the pandemic, according to comments made by Yankton Convention & Visitor’s Bureau director Kasi Haberman. However, its state parks are still open, which is helping insulate some tourism markets from the financial impact of the coronavirus.

  • #42. North Dakota

    - Total WalletHub score: 35.9
    - Dependency on travel and tourism industry rank: #30
    - Aggressiveness against coronavirus rank: #47

    Tourism is responsible for around 42,000 jobs in North Dakota. Its top tourist attraction, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, closed in mid-April in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, reopened to visitors May 9.

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