Ed Fuller, Jay Burress

Ed Fuller, Jay Burress

Orange County Visitors Association data shows tourism-related spending in Orange County rose last year for the fourth year running, topped $12.5 billion, and involved more than 177,000 jobs.

OCVA research released in November said overall economic impact from tourism—direct spending plus other factors—was about $20.5 billion.

About 49 million people visited the county last year, up 2% year-over-year and 11% over the past five years, the Irvine-based destination marketer said.

The jobs increase was about 8% over 2016’s tally of 164,000 workers related to tourism.

OCVA board chair and Visit Anaheim President and Chief Executive Jay Burress said in a press release that, “We’ve made tourism one of the biggest contributors to Orange County’s economy.”

International visitors, at 4.5 million, up from 4.4 million, were again about 9% of the total.

OCVA president and Chief Executive Ed Fuller said, “We have hit the global marketplace with a message that Orange County is the place for visitors to experience the California dream.”

OCVA’s 10th annual tourism conference is May 7 at Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach.