Figures released by State of Washington Tourism indicate huge increases in visitor spending in Asotin County in 2022. The growth rate was 36.5% from 2021 to 2022. It was the highest rate in all the Washington State’s 39 counties. Overnight visitors spent a total of $45.2 million on lodging, food and beverage, recreation, shopping, and transportation in 2022.
Asotin County’s average expenditures for overnight visitors per person, per day was $131, it is the third highest in the State, behind Skamania County at $139 per person, per day, (another cruise line port of call) and King County at the highest $183 per person, per day.
The spending generated $1.7 million in local tax revenues in 2022 funding public services such as police, firefighters, road improvements, and many amenities utilized by local residents. This translates to an average tax savings for Asotin County households of $434.40 per year. Asotin County lodging revenues have significantly increased as well. Total lodging revenues increased from $11.2 million in 2021 to $14.6 million in 2022.
A portion of this spending is a direct result of the three cruise lines that have 9 vessels bringing an estimated 20,000 passengers to the Lewis Clark Valley this year, up from 16,000 passengers in 2022. “The cruise line industry generates hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for local businesses and tax revenue for Asotin County,” says Michelle Peters, president of Visit Lewis Clark Valley, the local destination marketing organization. “Maintaining our dams and rivers are integral to ensuring visitors continue to come to our area and spend their money here.” Five of the nine vessels utilize the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport to fly their passengers in and out of Lewiston. “Many of these passengers choose to stay and spend more time and money in our region exploring our cultural and outdoor recreation opportunities,” Peters says.
Many of the cruise line passengers have overnight stays at the Holiday Inn, Clarkston with a handful of visitors staying at the Hells Canyon Grand in Lewiston. Cruise boat passengers are provided with a variety of options while in Clarkston; seeing Hells Canyon by boat or helicopter tour, visiting the Nez Perce National Historical Park, as well as the option to extend their stay and visit golf courses, wineries, etc. The American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines offer a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus that allows visitors to stop at local retailers, restaurants, wineries, and historical sites.
Hells Canyon is an additional source of visitor spending in the valley attracting over 30,000 visitors each year, many of whom spend multiple nights contributing to lodging tax revenues as well as local restaurants and retailers.
Visit Lewis Clark Valley is the destination marketing organization for the area. Funded by Asotin County, and the City of Clarkston lodging tax revenue, and the Idaho Travel Council grant the organization has been providing visitor information and marketing the region to national and
international visitors since 2000.