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Wyoming attracted a record number of tourists - and their money - in 2015

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CHEYENNE, Wyoming — Wyoming attracted a record number of tourists — and their money — in 2015, according to preliminary numbers.

Lower fuel prices, well executed marketing campaigns and more foreign travelers all had a part in boosting travel in Wyoming and nationwide, state Office of Tourism Executive Director Diane Shober said.

"The natural strategic result is high visitation and a high volume of spending," Shober said.

According to preliminary numbers, a record 10.5 million people visited Wyoming last year, an increase of 4.2 percent from the 10.1 visitors in 2014.

Shober said nationally the tourism growth rate was 2.4 percent in 2015.

Over the last decade, visitation to Wyoming has increased 48 percent.

Travel spending in the state grew nearly $3.4 billion in 2015, an increase of $9 million over the previous year. The visitor spending generated $175 million in local and state tax revenues, up 7.4 percent in 2015 compared to $163 million in 2014. Since 2005, tax revenues generated by the tourism and hospitality industry have grown by more than 86 percent, the tourism office says.

Shober said travelers also spent a record $770 million on accommodation last year.

In addition, part- and full-time jobs in the state's travel industry grew by 690 last year to nearly 32,000.

Virtually all economic measures related to tourism increased in 2015, Shober said.

She credited marketing and promotion efforts by her office, local organizations and private tourism related businesses.

For example, Shober said her office increased advertising in the Seattle area last year.

"We were really able to push the meter on Seattle," she said. "In fact, when the campaigns were running the inquiries that we coming in from the market of Seattle, just in mobile inquiries ... were up over 300 percent just from Seattle alone."

Her office also has continued to target the Midwest, including Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis, which have been traditionally strong areas for Wyoming tourists, she said.

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