This story was originally published by FOX 13 on Nov. 23, 2022.
SEATTLE – Downtown Seattle Association data shows that visitor numbers in downtown have been increasing steadily over 2021. Despite a rise in crime and other challenges the city has faced, the recovery of the city has moved forward following the pandemic as more visitors return for the holiday season.
“Everything about the city, we love it here,” said Margaret Chan, visiting from Chicago. “It’s so beautiful here.”
Visitors like Chan were already making holiday stops in downtown Seattle on Wednesday as the lights went up in Westlake Park.
“Just trying to try the Seattle Dog and compare with the Chicago Dog,” said William Zhou, also visiting from Chicago.
Long-time Seattle resident Skyla Sorenson brought some out-of-town friends to downtown on Wednesday to see the lights.
“We thought we would come down here, see if there are any Christmas lights out check out the waterfront,” said Skyla. “We just took the Monorail, which is something I always like to do with friends that are visiting.”
The Downtown Seattle Association reported more than 2.4 million visitors in October, an increase of more than 7% compared to October 2021.
Demand for hotel rooms also remained strong, with October demand reported at 91% of 2019 levels.
“We are not quite to pre-pandemic levels, but we are really strong right now,” said James Sido with the Downtown Seattle Association.
Recent data from Sound Transit also shows there were “2.3 million boardings” in September 2022, making it the busiest month on record for the light rail system.
Additionally, the DSA reports that the last weekend of October marked the highest 3-day total of visitors to the Pioneer Square Neighborhood since the start of the pandemic, at more than 86,000. It should be noted that the Seahawks played against the New York Giants at Lumen Field on Oct. 30.
“Pioneer Square had a great October and there are new openings, from a retail standpoint. In Pioneer Square, there are new things coming online in that neighborhood which is terrific,” said Sido.
To welcome more people downtown for the holidays, the DSA says it has been partnering with artists to create murals. A new installation just went up near Second Ave. and Pine St. outside the Chromer Building.
“We helped actually coordinate that with Vivid Matter Collective, a really cool piece, and I think you’ll see different public art installations throughout downtown but there are new stores coming online too,” said Sido.
The Uniqlo store opened just about a week ago to lines around the block.
A temporary ice rink is also planned to open at Occidental Square the first week in December.
“They are setting that up on Dec. 7. So, if you go there now, there is café seating, but there will be an ice rink in there,” said Sido.
Cleanup is also ongoing, with the Clean Team removing more than 3,400 graffiti tags in October.
“We think that when people come down here they are going to be pleasantly surprised if they haven’t been here in a while. Things are clean things are active and really vibrant for the holidays,” said Sido.
“It’s nice to see it’s coming back a little bit. It’s already nicer than it was a year ago when I was last here,” said Sorenson.
James Sido says Westlake Park alone will feature more than 130,000 lights this year and there will be music every week in the park. The tree lighting will take place Friday with music and other festivities starting at around 3:00 pm.
“Friday, we have the tree lighting celebration, and hopefully conditions permitting we will have fireworks,” said Sido. “We are going to have live music here on Friday afternoon beginning at around 3 p.m., music here and then a concert will close the tree lighting celebration. It’s going to be an afternoon and evening full of festive fun.”