How much will COVID-19 pandemic impact tourism in Ohio?

Columbus, Ohio
A flight flies over Columbus, Ohio, in September 2019. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

(The Center Square) – The COVID-19 pandemic will assuredly impact tourism nationwide, and Ohio isn’t immune to the fallout.

But, precisely how much it will affect tourism in the Buckeye State remains to be seen.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 is impacting all business sectors in Ohio – including tourism,” Lydia Mihalik, director of Ohio Development Services Agency, said in a news release.

“While it is too early to know the full effect, recent research from Longwoods International found that most Americans planning to travel in the next six months are changing their travel plans due to coronavirus,” Mihalik said.

“Through our TourismOhio office, we are encouraging Ohioans to continue to support local shops and restaurants that remain open by ordering take out and shopping online,” Mihalik added. “We are all in this together and when we get through this public health crisis – and we will – our state will be well-positioned for a strong rebound.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and government officials have implemented a range of restrictions on Ohio residents to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus that originated in China in late 2019. Among them are an order requiring Ohioans to stay at home except for essential business.

Earlier this month, The Buckeye Institute suggested $2.5 billion in unnecessary spending identified in its Piglet Book could be repurposed to fight the economic fallout from COVID-19. The money included more than $55 million for TourismOhio, Ohio History Connection, the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohioana Library Association.

However, the tourism hit for Ohio may be smaller than other states, considering tourism isn’t as big of an industry, numbers suggest. A new analysis from WalletHub found Ohio ranked last in the country (No. 51) for its dependency on travel and tourism.

Ohio also ranks No. 50 for the lowest share of employment in travel and tourism-related industries; only Washington ranks worse.

Overall, Ohio ranks No. 38 for states where COVID-19 has had the most significant impact on tourism.

“Ohio is among the states where COVID-19 has had a smaller impact on tourism,” Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst, said in an email to The Center Square.

“The share of employment in travel and tourism-related industries is very low, as is the share of travel and tourism industry generated GDP,” Gonzalez added. “Another factor that contributed to this ranking was the travel and tourism consumer spending per capita, which is the lowest in the country, at about $1,800.”

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