Guest Opinions

Guest Opinion: The serious business of providing serious value to Boise

Tourism might seem like a fun industry where we breezily sell Boise’s culture and charm, but it is, in fact, serious business.

Celebrating tourists doesn’t always come naturally — some may think a visitor merely adds to traffic or takes a reservation spot at a favorite restaurant.

But during National Travel and Tourism Week, May 2-10, it’s important to remember that visitors provide lasting value to our community.

In 2014, the Boise Airport saw 1.3 million people arrive in Boise. The Boise area had 1.5 million overnight stays in its hotels. Visitors travel to Boise for a variety of reasons — visiting family and friends; attending a meeting, reunion, tour or event; or just passing through.

Last year’s Boise guests ended up spending an estimated $750 million on lodging, dining, shopping, attractions and recreation.

The national picture is even more dramatic: Travel and tourism generated $2.1 trillion in economic output in 2014, with $927.9 billion spent directly by domestic and international travelers across the country. According to the U.S. Travel Association, these activities directly generated $141.5 billion in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments.

We can’t afford to take that economic benefit lightly.

The boosts that overnight visits bring to the Idaho economy don’t just remain with hotels, restaurants and convention space. Guests spend their time with businesses such as boutiques, florists, dry cleaners, grocery stores, banks, salons and rental companies.

Boise has become a destination. The national media have begun to take notice. Whether it’s Conde Nast Travel, USA Today or Good Morning America, our home is getting recognized for its charm. Small wonder; our community entices visitors with its festivals, outdoor life and unique cultural flavor.

Among the attractions that draw visitors are: the Basque Block, Birds of Prey, the Idaho Penitentiary, the Botanical Gardens, Boise State University’s blue turf, the Shakespeare Festival, Ballet Idaho, the Boise Philharmonic, Broadway in Boise at the Morrison Center, Zoo Boise, hiking and biking paths, the river, the Greenbelt, the Boise Hawks, Les Bois, the Steelheads and the Stampede. The summer of 2015 is sure to bring an extra flood of visitors to the area with the Ironman 70.3, Albertsons Boise Open and Basque Soccer Friendly, just to name a few events.

During National Tourism Week, our city will even host the state of Idaho’s conference on recreation and tourism. There, the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau will have the privilege to unveil a new local initiative for tourism.

Our goal with this project is to help our community partners to better track the positive impacts of visitors to our area. We’ll showcase the day in a life of meeting attendees and track the money flowing through the community and the overall economic impact of a meeting attendee.

It’s an honor to represent Boise to the outside world. Our pride in our city is a great selling point. Let’s appreciate all the benefits our community members see from visitors to our home. Let’s thank our visitors for coming to our wonderful city and continue to show them the hospitality that makes our city and region shine.

To learn more about tourism in the Boise area, visit

Carrie Westergard is the executive director at the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau.