St. Louis tourism pumps nearly $5B into local economy

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Memorial Day weekend traditionally kicks off the summer tourist season across the country.  Visitors account for $4.8 billion to the St. Louis economy according to the Convention and Visitors Commission. Nichole Williams was visiting St. Louis Monday.  She said, “It’s beautiful here all the buildings at night time it’s gorgeous.”

Even during the great recession experts say the St. Louis tourism industry remained strong because there are so many free attractions here, like the zoo, the history museum and the art museum.   Missy Clanton and her husband Shane and their three sons were visiting from Mississippi.  She said, “It does matter, we’re attracted to the word free.”  Her husband added, “Money is hard to come by so you want the biggest bang for your buck.”

The almost 24 million visitors each year do a good job at filling up local hotels and eating at restaurants like the Boathouse in Forest Park where the general manager estimates as much as 40 percent of the summer business is made up folks visiting St. Louis. They come from all over the world including a couple from Spain who recently stopped in for a meal.  Restaurant G.M. Bob Reel said, “Toursim, vacationers, daycationers are our business.”

The average visitor is 47 years old, almost 40 percent of travel parties include children. New attractions like Ballpark Village are expected to attract even bigger crowds to St. Louis.  The C.V.C. reports the average visitor to St. Louis will spend $78 a day.

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