GEE AND URSULA

Downtown Seattle’s tourism bounces back while its office workers remain remote

Jun 1, 2022, 7:06 AM
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Downtown Seattle had a busy holiday weekend, as it is the second most popular domestic destination for Memorial Day travelers, after Orlando, Florida, according to booking data by AAA. But office workers in the downtown area are still primarily working remotely, with downtown office occupancy stalling at around 33% since late February, according to Placer estimates.

“I think we expect a majority of them to be back. As we get into the summer and into the fall, all the surveys that we’ve done locally, the national data says very few people want to continue working exactly as they have over these last two years,” Jon Scholes, the President and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), said on the Gee and Ursula Show on KIRO Newsradio. “Very few individuals want to continue working remote five days a week. That’s not to say there aren’t some people who have those perspectives, but it’s really on the margins.”

Gameworks to reopen as soon as July under former execs

This goes against earlier pandemic predictions, where business leaders and experts believed downtown’s economic resurgence would come from workers returning to offices, followed by growth in tourism. But the opposite has occurred so far: tourism has returned to Seattle before remote workers.

Most people see themselves maintaining some time in the office and some time working remotely, according to Scholes.

At $6,783, Seattle has the second-highest average monthly salary for remote workers, according to recent data compiled by Teamwork. Seattle trails just San Francisco, Calif., while earning more than Arlington, W.Va., Dallas, Texas, and New York, N.Y.

“I would expect by late fall, a majority of downtown workers are in the office a majority of the week. That might mean three days a week for some folks or four,” Scholes said. “And it might not be eight to five. They may be showing up at 10 to skip the commute, but stay late and go to a game. And so, I think the commute patterns are going to shift. But at the end of the day, as we work our way out of this pandemic, a majority of workers are back downtown for a majority of the week.”

Ross: The real secret to a happy workforce

Hotel occupancy is up 23% since March 2020, while Pike Place Market visitors are up nearly 60% since June 2020, according to the DSA. Originally at 76% in March 2020, office workers are still just at 34% occupancy.

“We’re in a much better spot than we were a year ago, and a much better spots than we were three months ago,” Scholes added. “There are fewer folks living in tents on the streets, we’ve seen more police presence, we’re investing in security. So that’s job number one: it’s got to be safe and welcoming for everybody.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

Washington State Cougars running back Deon McIntosh (3) gets into the end zone for a Cougar touchdo...
MyNorthwest Staff

Gee and Ursula’s top stories: Future of the Pac-12, Inslee’s Vaccine Mandate

KIRO Newsradio’s Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin bring you their top stories on the day on July 1.
2 days ago
Dr. Faisal Khan (King County)...
MyNorthwest Staff

Gee and Ursula: 3 things you need to know on Thursday, June 30

KIRO Newsradio’s Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin bring you their top stories on the day on June 30
3 days ago
The Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels clear the benches after Jesse Winker #27 of the Sea...
MyNorthwest Staff

Gee and Ursula’s top stories: GOP to eliminate filibuster, Bremerton coach, Mariners-Angels scuffle

Ursula and guest-host Jack Stine discuss the potential elimination of the filibuster, what the future for Bremerton Coach Joseph Kennedy looks like, and how the biggest brawl in baseball this year turned into a surprise pizza party.
5 days ago
Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Gee and Ursula’s top stories: Bremerton coach, Inslee protecting WA, Pride’s seismic return

Ursula and Jack Stine tackle the Bremerton Coach decision, Inslee's promise to make Washington a sanctuary state, and Pride's big return to Seattle.
6 days ago
A committee exhibit shows former Vice President Mike Pence talking on the phone from his secure loc...
MyNorthwest Staff

‘Republican Party is in danger,’ says Medved in response to Jan. 6 hearings

"I think it's going to be harder and harder for people to defend what happened on January 6," Medved said.
16 days ago
King County interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall...
Frank Sumrall

Racial disparities in King County Sheriff’s use of force, more data needed says Sheriff

"Black people are 350% more likely to be arrested by the King County Sheriff's Office on a per capita basis," said Gee Scott.
17 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Downtown Seattle’s tourism bounces back while its office workers remain remote