Gov. John Carney and Delaware Tourism Director Linda Parkowksi discussed new data showing 8.5 million visitors came to Delaware in 2015 at a news conference Feb. 7 at Dew Point Brewing Company in Yorklyn, .

Tourism accounted for $3.1 billion of Delaware’s gross domestic product and created $486 million in taxes and fees for state and local government. Without tourism, each Delaware household would pay an extra $1,417 in taxes annually.

The industry is responsible for 42,000 jobs in Delaware, making it the fourth largest private employment sector in the state.

All numbers are new highs for the state, and each is a jump from where it was in 2008 when the state put a renewed focus on promoting Delaware as a vacation destination.

The new data reflects the incredible results seen from the state’s new tourism brand — “Delaware: Endless Discoveries” — which was rolled out in January 2015.

Advertising directed at states surrounding Delaware, such as Pennsylvania and Maryland, led to huge spikes in traffic on from those areas. The newly released data says 2.7 million people visited Delaware from Maryland in 2015 and 1.3 million people from Pennsylvania. Three quarters of Delaware tourists came from Philadelphia; Baltimore; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Delaware’s seasonal second home market had almost 40,000 homes having an estimated rental value of $1.1 billion. New Castle County accounts for 47 percent of spending by tourists while Sussex and Kent counties make up 41 and 12 percent, respectively.

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