The US boasts a strong tourism economy worth around $1.2 trillion, but which places or cities make up the biggest pieces of that pie? Who attracts the most domestic and international travelers? For example, the National Park Service advertised that its 423 properties contributed $28.6 billion to the economy in 2020 through visitor spending (and that was during the COVID recession; usually more).
It can now be assumed that, due to its relative newness as a tourist attraction, cannabis, on the contrary, may generate exponentially less income than our national parks. But such an assumption would be wrong. According to a new report from Forbes, cannabis tourism is a rapidly growing sector. In fact, they estimate that it is currently a $17 billion industry—nearly 60% of the value of national parks. This is evidence that the dawn of herbal tourism is near. ForbesAccording to Will Yakovich and Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, the company has room to grow.
The initial success isn’t surprising when you look at the statistics: 62% of marijuana smokers over the age of 21 and with an annual family income of over $50,000 are reportedly interested in a cannabis-centric travel experience, according to a study cited by MMGY Travel Intelligence. on Forbes. In addition, according to the Harris Poll, 50% of all millennials said that access to legal recreational cannabis was important when choosing a vacation spot, and 43% said they had already chosen places because cannabis was legal there.
“By 2025, 50% of US travelers will be millennials,” said Brian Applegart, founder of the International Cannabis Travel Association. Forbes. “And their attitudes towards cannabis consumption are extremely normalized compared to today’s stigmatized industry leaders.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that all of the $17 billion in tourism revenue came directly from the sale of cannabis – it isn’t. Of the $25 billion in legal cannabis sales in 2021, only $4.5 billion came from tourists, but Forbes The same tourists are estimated to have invested $12.6 billion in restaurants, hotels and other attractions. The idea is that cannabis-focused businesses aren’t the only ones to benefit from a surge in tourist interest – revenue is revenue.
For the uninitiated: Recreational marijuana is legal in 19 states as well as Washington, D.C., and medical use is legal in more than 35 states, with Colorado being the first to create a recreational marijuana market after passing a ballot initiative in 2012. Fast forward to 2018 and a study conducted in Journal of Tourism Marketing and Management showed that perceptions of marijuana had changed and that Colorados became increasingly supportive of cannabis-related tourism as ways in which they could personally benefit began to emerge.
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