• Average visitor age is 40.
• The gender split is about half and half.
• 61 percent come from the Seattle/Tacoma area, and 16 percent from Spokane.
• 82 percent of visitors drove to the county, another 6 percent arrived by plane.
• 49 percent learned of Chelan County through friends and family.
• 57 percent said they used the Internet to research and make travel arrangements.
• Visitors expressed overall satisfaction with service and quality and felt prices/values were reasonable, but would like to see better prices and variety for shopping.
Source: James Lillstrom presentation, Chelan County Visitor Research 2009/2010.
WENATCHEE — Most visitors come to Chelan County as a vacation getaway, but the variety of outdoor activities and wineries make the biggest impression on them while they’re here.
So concludes the first survey in a decade of Chelan County tourists: why they come, what they do, where they stay and what they like.
The Port of Chelan County released select results of the survey June 24. The full results will be available later this week.
Some 11,600 people responded to the survey either online or via one of about two dozen computerized “black survey boxes” placed in well-traveled areas around the county.
The survey period was June 2009 through April 2010.
The port paid Colorado consulting firm James Lillstrom & Associates $30,000 for the survey. The same company did the last tourism survey in 1999/2000.
Results show that 56 percent of survey respondents said they were most impressed with the county’s options for recreation, and 35 percent pointed to the county’s wineries.
“It’s not that we didn’t know wine was of growing interest in the area,” said Roger Clute, executive director of the Wenatchee Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, on Monday. “The survey points out that the potential is enormous. We might be in the same place Walla Walla was 10 years ago.”
The survey says wine tourists:
• Have an average income of $92,945, compared to $76,930 for regular visitors.
• Visit three or more wineries per trip and spend an average of $100 on wine per visit.
• Travel in larger groups and spend an average of about four nights in the county.
• Identified Chelan as the place they’d most likely visit for wine, followed by Leavenworth.
Clute said the region’s chambers of commerce and promotion agencies would use the results to better focus their advertising dollars.
“It’s very worthwhile to get an update on where we are on tourism and what the opinions of our visitors are,” Clute said Monday. “When you do a survey, you get the real information. … There’s quite a bit at stake here.”
Wenatchee and the visitor’s bureau spend about $200,000 annually to promote the Wenatchee Valley.
This pales in comparison with the county’s tourism meccas of Leavenworth and Lake Chelan.
Leavenworth Mayor Rob Eaton said the Bavarian-themed town spends more than $860,000 per year on advertising to lure visitors.
Leavenworth topped the survey list of the county’s most-visited attractions.
Mike Steele, executive director of the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, says that comes as no surprise, since Leavenworth is directly in the path of eastward-bound Seattle-area visitors, who make up 61 percent of respondents.
The lakeside town was the county’s second-most visited destination. He estimates Chelan spends between $600,000 and $800,000 annually on promotion.
“We felt that our numbers, comparatively, were fantastic,” Steele said. “Lake Chelan is off the beaten path, and people are still making a point to visit.”
The survey shows that about 81 percent of visitors to Chelan County come from within Washington and 82 percent travel by car.
Eaton said he’d like to see advertising focused to draw from a larger area, possibly from the eastern U.S.
“Chelan County has a lot of jewels in it, Leavenworth being one, as well as Wenatchee and Chelan,” he said. “I’d like to see advertising that reaches farther.”
The survey had a total of 65 questions, but not all participants needed to answer all 65, Clute said. Those who completed the survey are eligible to win trips to Wenatchee, Leavenworth and Chelan.
Winners will be announced by mid-July.
Christine Pratt: 665-1173