It's no surprise that the economic impact of travel and tourism in North Idaho is far-reaching.
Millions visit Idaho each year, making travel and tourism the state’s third-largest industry behind agriculture and technology.
Many of the state’s visitors are drawn to North Idaho, eager to experience the region’s stunning landscapes, gorgeous lakes, clear rivers and mighty forests.
Some come for action adventures — hiking, skiing, kayaking, hunting or fishing.
Others take a more leisurely approach to vacationing in the Gem State’s northern counties. They come to enjoy the peaceful solitude of a slow trek through the woods or to relax while getting some sun at a lakeside beach or by a river.
Statistics provided by the Idaho Travel Council show the significant impact of travel and tourism in North Idaho counties:
• Direct spending by visitors to the region in 2021 was $1.145 billion.
• State and local tax receipts generated by those visitors totaled $88.2 million.
• Travel generated 12,230 jobs in North Idaho that year.
• Visitors to the region in 2021 spent:
$230.4 million on accommodations
$342.9 million on food service
$91.1 million on local transportation
$341.9 million on entertainment
$121.1 million on retail sales
The same data for 2022 will be even more impressive since statewide tourism and travel achieved the highest revenue-earning year on record for 2% lodging tax collections, bringing in over $20 million in 2022. That is a 39% year-over-year increase.
As home of The Coeur d’Alene Resort, and with large events like Ironman and the North Idaho State Fair, Coeur d’Alene is usually top of mind when it comes to travel and tourism, but other North Idaho areas have their own attractions.
The region’s rich history draws visitors who are eager to delve into the colorful stories of miners, loggers and other pioneering types who helped build interesting communities that retain their historic characters to this day.
This is especially true in places like Wallace in the Silver Valley, which Josh McDonald writes about in this edition of the North Idaho Business Journal.
And Post Falls was in the tourism spotlight in Idaho Commerce’s annual 2022 report. The city was recognized for its development of Q’emiln Park, now 78 acres with over 100 climbing routes that are easy to access and popular with beginning to expert climbers.
“The Post Falls Chamber of Commerce has tapped into an untouched tourism market,” the report said. “In 2021, the park welcomed 22,814 visitors to rock climbing and mountain biking, a year-over-year increase of 34%.”
There is no shortage of opportunities throughout North Idaho for companies that meet the needs of those who come here to play, and for those who support locals looking to have some fun close to home.
You’ll read about a few of those businesses in this edition.
We have a story about a company offering a unique way to explore North Idaho and beyond. You'll find features about a cat groomer who makes it easy for cat owners to head out of town or into the wild; an adventure business in the trees at Farragut State Park; and a story about a partnership between two outdoor recreation mainstays known for providing top-tier service to boaters and fishing enthusiasts who visit the area.
Thank you for joining us again this month as we strive to provide information and inspiration for North Idaho’s business community.
And don’t forget, the deadline to submit a nomination to be on the list of North Idaho’s 20 Fastest Growing Companies is May 25. You’ll find more information about that inside.