GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — New data shows that the Grand Rapids area saw a record number of visitors last year, far surpassing expectations.

The report was released by Experience Grand Rapids and showed that the city and Kent County as a whole saw hotel room sales and revenue skyrocket year-over-year.

“After two very rough years, group business has made a strong comeback in Kent County,” Experience GR President & CEO Doug Small said in a statement.

In 2022 alone, the county saw 2,157,455 hotel rooms sold. That was about a 19.4% increase from 2021 and more than 4% higher than 2019. Small said that an increase in leisure travel following the pandemic helped fuel the record highs.

Kent County saw hotel room revenue jump 45% from $77.5 million in 2021 to over $248.7 million in 2022. Those increases were believed to be years away for Grand Rapids and the county as a whole.

“That’s two full years ahead of industry forecasts that predicted we wouldn’t see new sales highs until 2024,” Small said in a statement.

Another contributing factor to the large number of tourists had to do with the number of sporting events, conferences and other tours and meetings in 2022. A total of 481 of those were held in the area last year — 92% of the pre-pandemic figure — drawing more than 443,000 people.

“While leisure travel was certainly curtailed during the pandemic, the rebound was quicker as people began traveling to visit friends and relatives and getaway to drivable destinations,” Small said.