Special to 1808Delaware

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – a must-visit central Ohio destination – added $350 million to the region and sustained more than 3,800 jobs in 2021, according to a study by Regionomics.

Zoo operations generated $7.7 million in tax revenue for local municipalities, school districts, COTA and other public entities in 2021, the study reported. In addition, the Zoo’s operations provided $5.4 million in state tax revenue. “We are proud to be a strong economic driver for the region and state,” said Tom Schmid, Columbus Zoo’s CEO. “While it isn’t part of our mission work, I am pleased that our economic impact continues to be significant.”

These milestones were achieved by the Zoo despite the headwinds of a global pandemic and other challenges in 2021.

“Last year (2021) was a terrific year for the Zoo in so many areas,” Schmid said. “We had more than 2.2 million guest visits and launched new community access programming, ensuring the Columbus Zoo continues to be the Zoo for everyone.”

The study shows that of the 2.2 million Zoo guests:

  • Franklin County residents made up about 40 percent with nearly 900,000 visitors.
  • The surrounding central Ohio counties accounted for 24 percent with an equal percentage from Ohio counties outside the region.
  • Guests from outside the Buckeye state accounted for 11 percent of visitors.

“Columbus has many points of pride that draw visitors to the region, and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the top attractions families visit while they’re here,” said Kari Kauffman, Chief Destination Experience Officer at Experience Columbus.

“Research by Longwoods International shows that 14 percent of overnight visitors to Columbus visit our renowned zoo. That percentage is double the U.S. norm. Through their outstanding programming and overall experience, the zoo draws visitors from around the region, and while they’re here they take part in all the wonderful things Columbus has to offer,” added Kauffman.

Tim Wilson, Executive Director of Visit Delaware County agrees. “Having one of the finest Zoos in the world in your front yard, what’s not to like?” said Wilson.

“The Columbus Zoo is one of the top destinations in Delaware County. Its presence directly benefits the other attractions in Delaware County. Families can visit the Zoo during the day, and practice their swing at Top Golf at night,” said Wilson.

According to the Tourism Economics research, the Buckeye State welcomed 219 million visitors in 2021 generating $35.1 billion of direct visitor spending. Columbus, along with Cleveland and Cincinnati, are key destinations and influence the distribution of tourism dollars across the state.

“As we work to finalize our strategic plan, many factors are considered to position the Zoo as a top attraction in the region while also making transformational change and impact through our conservation work locally and around the world,” said Schmid.

Be sure to follow the Zoo’s social media accounts on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, and visit us at ColumbusZoo.org.

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