Tourism spending in Allegheny County continued to climb last year. Visitors to the region spent $5.5 billion in transportation, recreation, retail, and lodging, an increase of $2 billion spent in 2012.

Visit Pittsburgh shared the news Tuesday during its annual meeting at the Wyndham Grand, taking a moment to tout the role the organization has played as an economic generator in creating jobs, supporting businesses and attracting visitors to Allegheny County.

“There’s no doubt the future of Pittsburgh is bright and getting brighter every day,” said Rich Fitzgerald, country supervisor, in his opening remarks.

Among the highlights:

+ Tourism spending in Pittsburgh was $5.5 billion across a range of travel-related categories in 2013. Transportation was the largest portion ($1.8 billion) followed by food and beverage ($1.1 billion), recreation ($1 billion), retail ($890 million) and lodging ($694 million).

+ Tourism brought $1.3 billion into the region in wages and benefits and 39,000 jobs in Allegheny County.

+The National Society of Black Engineers will return to Pittsburgh in 2018, bringing some of the most respected engineering companies in the world for a third time. The estimate of the event’s direct spending is upward of $15 million.

+ A comparison of annual hotel occupancy rates in 2013 placed Pittsburgh at 66.1%, ahead of Charlotte, Baltimore, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

+252,249 rooms were booked for 2013 and beyond, with 590 meetings and $200.8 million in direct spending in the region.

+ Conventions continue to be a money-maker for the region. The region will host several major events in 2014, among them Quilts ($7.4 million), National Catholic Educational Association ($6.9 million), USA Gymnastics/ P&G Championships ($5 million) and the American Association of Immunologists ($4.2 million)

+2015 is stacking up to be a big year. The Veterans of Foreign Wars ($13.2 million), Barbershop Harmony Society ($12.6) Society for Science and the Public ($8.5 million) and East Coast Volleyball ($3.7 million).

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared...