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The economy may be down, but tourism is up
Tourists spent an estimated $15.2 billion last year in Washington. A new report by the state Commerce Department and Washington State Tourism says 2010 was the second best year on record, up 7.4% from 2009. But it's below last year's nation-wide increase of 8.5%.
While tourists spent more dollars here last year, the study shows jobs in Washington's tourism industry held steady, with employers opting to increase staff hours rather than hire new workers.
Nearly 144,000 jobs in the state depend on the travel industry, with an annual payroll of $4.3 billion.
The best year for Washington tourism was 2008, when visitors spent $15.4 billion.
You can find the state's official tourism website at www.experiencewa.com.