Josephine County Travel Impacts 2021

by Guy Tauer

August 4, 2022

New data from a Dean Runyan Associates study for the Oregon Tourism Commission shows that total direct travel spending in Oregon fell by 48.5% in 2020 compared with 2019 totals. Preliminary data for 2021 show that the travel economy recovered much of the prior year’s losses to reach $10.9 billion. This was still $1.9 billion below 2019 levels. Travel spending and earnings showed stronger recoveries than travel-related employment, which by 2021 recovered less than one out of three jobs that were lost in 2020.

Travel spending rose from $86.6 million in 2020 to $153.5 million in 2021 in Josephine County, accounting for 1.4% of all Oregon travel spending. Food service ($44.3 million) and accommodations ($34 million) combined to account for one-half of travel spending in Josephine County last year. Retail sales ($19.8 million); food store spending ($16.1 million); local transportation and gas ($14.5 million); and arts, entertainment, and recreation ($13.7 million) made up the majority of the rest of Josephine County travel spending in 2021. Direct travel spending in 2021 was $12.1 million more than the 2019 pre-pandemic total in Josephine County, according to these preliminary estimates.
Employment attributed to travel spending reached 1,980 jobs in 2021, up 10% from the prior year in Josephine County. After losing an estimated 230 jobs during the pandemic in 2020, the county regained 180 or about three-quarters of the travel related employment lost at the onset of the pandemic. Industry employment generated by travel spending had a similar distribution as overall travel spending by industry. About two-thirds of all travel-generated employment was in the accommodation and food services industry. Approximately one out of three travel-generated jobs were in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, and one out of 10 jobs were in the retail trade sector.
The 2020 to 2021 increase in travel spending of 77.4% was much faster growth than the average annual increase between 2003 and 2021, which was 2.5%. Earnings growth from travel spending rose 19.2% in 2021, also faster than the average growth rate of 4.2% since 2003. Tax revenue, mostly from lodging taxes and income tax payments attributable to travel industry income of businesses and employees, totaled $7.2 million in 2021. Local tax revenues increased by 44.4% to reach $1.9 million in 2021, while state tax revenue attributable to travel spending rose from about $3.9 million in 2020 to about $5.3 million in 2021, a 32.7% increase. There were more than 1.9 million overnight visitor stays in Josephine County in 2021, according to preliminary estimates, nearly reaching the pre-pandemic 2019 total.

While some don’t consider travel and tourism as an “export-oriented” industry, the Dean Runyan Associates report does a nice job of detailing why this sector does fit the criteria of an export-oriented industry, due to the influx of resources that flow into an economy from outside of the region. The travel impact report states the gross domestic product of the travel industry was $5.4 billion in 2021. Overall, the travel industry is one of the three largest export-oriented industries in rural Oregon counties with the other two being agriculture/food processing and logging/wood products.

For the complete report, where statewide and individual county data are available, go to:

Interactive tables and other Oregon data from the Oregon Tourism Commission:


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