There is no question that the #Seattle region is an economic powerhouse like no other urban area in the Pacific Northwest.
After all, it is the headquarters of global giants Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks, Costco, Expedia, and Alaska Airlines. Within the Seattle region, these firms collectively employ hundreds of thousands of people in well-paying positions, providing the area with ample disposable income. And while Seattle’s strengths also entail tourism, driven by its breadth of attractions, arts, culture, natural surroundings, history, and business travel, it has lagged behind its major northern neighbour on certain major components of tourism-supporting infrastructure — up until very recently.
Seattle is increasingly making moves that set itself up to better compete against the same strengths that bring tourists and other visitors to Vancouver. These limited strengths for Vancouver are absolutely vital for driving tourism given that the region lacks the same breadth of attractions offered by Seattle.
In March 2022, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) completed a transformative US$1 billion international terminal building expansion on a scope as significant as YVR’s modernization in 1996. With the opening of the new terminal, SEA has soared in Skytrax’s global rankings, earning a top-place finish for North America for two straight years. SEA’s recent terminal expansion overhauled its international terminal to improve connections between international flights and SEA’s domestic flights. The number of international gates has been nearly doubled, a new customs hall has been built, and the number of international bag claim carousels has also almost doubled. Overall, SEA’s capacity to process international passengers has more than doubled from 1,200 passengers per hour to 2,600 passengers per hour.
Between 2015 and 2018, Seattle added about 3,200 rooms, including 2,550 new rooms in downtown Seattle between 2017 and 2018 — a 21% increase to over 14,000 rooms. This tally includes the 2018-built, 45-storey Hyatt Regency Seattle with 1,260 rooms, making it the largest hotel in Washington State. Seattle also now has a much larger modern convention centre to attract and compete with Vancouver for meetings, conferences, conventions, and events.
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