Delaware’s tourism sector fared better than others in 2020

By Logan B. Anderson
Posted 12/4/21

WILMINGTON — In 2020, the tourism industry was one of the hardest hit during the country’s battle with a global pandemic, especially in the Northeast. But, while painful, according to the …

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Delaware’s tourism sector fared better than others in 2020

Posted

WILMINGTON — In 2020, the tourism industry was one of the hardest hit during the country’s battle with a global pandemic, especially in the Northeast. But, while painful, according to the numbers, the state of Delaware fared slightly better than other states in our region.

On Thursday, the Delaware Tourism Office brought together industry experts and leaders at the Chase Center in Wilmington to continue its response to COVID-19 for an educational summit. A key session for the gathering was a discussion on data taken during 2020 about visits to the First State.

The research was conducted by Longwoods International, a market research consultancy, that has partnered with the state to provide data that Delaware leaders use to customize its programs.

“I love all the things analytics. It is the best way to really drive, moving forward, how to reach our visitors in the best way possible,” said Liz Keller, director of the office of tourism, on Thursday.

Andria Godfrey, senior vice president of Longwoods International, delivered her group’s tourism data during the summit.

The information she presented came from Longwoods International’s Travel USA project, the longest and largest ongoing study of American domestic travel.

“We’re going out and we’re capturing data on over 300,000 trips every year. And we’re looking at everything from who these visitors are, the demographics, to what they’re doing, where they’re coming from. And then we’re getting into also those trips’ satisfaction characteristics that are really important, especially when we talk about today, bringing visitors back into our markets,” Ms. Godfrey said.

The study presented on Thursday focused primarily on 2020.

“The reason why I want to go back to 2020 is because 2020 is when the disruption happens,” Ms. Godfrey said. “That is when we saw obviously traffic demand compressed greatly. But it is when we saw consumer behavior started to change.”

In 2020, across the country both overnight and day travel declined. Each state and region saw different rates of compression.

“Overall, the country was seeing overnight visitation decline by 16% but (the Northeast region) was seeing it by 31%. And then day travel was contracting by 20%,” Ms. Godfrey said.

According to the Longwoods International study, 24 million trips happened in Delaware in 2020. Those figures show that though the northeastern part of the U.S., including Delaware, saw a larger decline in visits, Delaware fared a little better. Delaware’s tourism statistics dropped to what Ms. Godfrey called pre-2017 levels.

“That is a very sobering stat to say, but one thing I can say is that I have seen a lot of cities and states in this region that are looking at 2014 and 2015 levels,” Ms. Godfrey said.

The market consulting group also tracked if visitors to the First State enjoyed their stay in Delaware. According to the data, 62% of overnight visitors rated their stay a five out of five.

The study also found that the general age of travelers to Delaware was younger than in years past.

“The national market provides a lot of opportunity and a lot of demand that state of Delaware has an opportunity to continue to capture,” Ms. Godfrey said. “There is a great opportunity here as we look to the end of 2021, the holiday season, and we move into 2022.”