(Olympia) — Washington would no longer be the only state in the nation without a statewide tourism marketing program under legislation introduced in both the state House and Senate this week.  The legislation would create an industry-led Tourism Marketing Authority and provide performance-based industry funding mechanisms without additional taxes.  Both HB1123 and SB5251 (the same legislation but entered in both the Senate and House) have bipartisan support from legislators representing urban and rural districts throughout the state.  “This legislation has strong support from the tourism industry,” said Cheryl Kilday, chair of the board of the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA).  “We want to thank the sponsors who have worked so hard to find a solution that will provide for more economic development and jobs as well as state and local tax revenue from increasing tourism to Washington.”  Washington State closed its tourism office in 2011 and while visitors to the Greater Seattle area have continued to be strong, many of our smaller and rural communities have struggled to keep vital tourism dollars (and the resulting jobs and tax revenue) flowing to their businesses.  Tourism is Washington’s 4th largest industry and impacts more than hotels, restaurants and destinations.  It benefits retailers, outdoor recreation, state parks, ports and cities – and ultimately the taxpayers of Washington.  More than $1.8 billion in local and state tax revenues are generated directly from tourism.  It’s the largest employer of women and minorities and is responsible for more than 170,500 jobs.  “Washington is the only state in the union that does not have a statewide tourism program. With this legislation, a small investment by the state should see double or even triple the return from the tourism industry. It is a great way to raise revenue without raising taxes,” said Rep. Cary Condotta, R-Wenatchee. “We should see a boost to our tourism industry and economy. It is time to get the word out about our great tourist destinations.”

“We’re lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, so it only makes sense to encourage more economic growth by attracting more tourism in Washington state,” said Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline. “This is especially in rural areas, where we have such natural beauty and a need for new jobs. So I want to thank everyone who visits our state and all those who work to make those visits a memory they will treasure forever.”  The measure also has bipartisan sponsorship and support in the Washington Senate.    “The true wonder of Washington is that with just a two-hour drive in any direction, you can find yourself in a completely different natural ecosystem,” said Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview. “Establishing a Washington Tourism Marketing Program is win-win, benefitting our small business owners on the shores of coastal towns and expanding our ability to share our distinct cultures and environments with the world.”  “We need these kinds of creative solutions to expand and promote the tourism opportunities in our state,” said Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “The tourism industry is such a large part of our economy and these are wise investments that the state should make to promote all we have to offer. My district is so geographically diverse, spanning from the Cascades to desert areas in the East –  I want to showcase this beauty as much as possible.”   A tourism working group of legislators met with industry leaders over the 2016 interim to create the new legislation which contains the following key provisions:

  • Independent oversight of the industry-run program by a board of tourism industry representatives and a legislator from each of the four political caucuses. There will also be some non-voting representatives from relevant state agencies including the Department of Commerce, Parks and Recreation Commission and the Department of Revenue.
  • A marketing plan and campaign that focuses on bringing more tourists to Washington and out to rural and tourism-dependent counties, emphasizing outdoor recreation opportunities and designed to attract international tourists, crafted by a non-profit entity representing the geographic and cultural diversity of the state.
  • A funding mechanism for a Tourism Marketing Account: Beginning July 1, 2017, 0.1 percent of general sales taxes collected on retails sales of lodging, restaurants and rental cars will be deposited into the Statewide Tourism Marketing Account. Deposits are limited to $5 million per biennium (every two year state budget cycle) and are subject to private matching funds prior to expenditure. The plan offers the potential for a maximum of $15 million per biennium to be spent on the tourism marketing program.

There will be a hearing on HB 1123 on January 25th before the House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee.  Senate consideration of the legislation is being scheduled.    Other House and Senate Sponsors include:  Rep. Andrew Barkis R-Olympia, Rep. Steve Kirby D-Tacoma, Rep. J.T. Wilcox R-Yelm, Rep. Gael Tarleton D-Seattle, Rep. Gina McBride R-Goldendale, Rep. Norma Smith R-Clinton, Rep. Dick Muri R-Steilacoom, Rep. Noel Frame D-Seattle, Rep. Steve Tharinger D-Dungeness, Rep. Jeff Morris D-Anacortes, Rep. Jim Walsh R-Aberdeen  Sen. Maralyn Chase D-Edmonds, Sen. Christine Rolfes D-Bainbridge Island, Sen. John McCoy DTulalip, Sen. Hans Zeiger R-Puyallup.

The WTA has launched a statewide grassroots effort to support the legislation to rally support.  The “It’s a Great Return – Tourism Works for Washington” campaign showcases how tourism benefits every community throughout the state.

Links for an overview of the bill, frequently asked questions, and information on how to contact your legislators are found here:

Make sure to follow the WTA on social media:


U.S. Travel Association Issues a Cautionary Tale of Washington State’s Divestment in Tourism Marketing

“Washington State travel spending and tax revenue lags seriously behind not only its neighboring competitor states, but the rest of the country as well,” according to new research from the U.S. Travel Association. In 2011 alone – the year the Washington State tourism office closed – travel spending growth was 13 percent slower and travel-generated tax revenue was 26 percent slower than the national rate. Read more here:


WTA Legislative Webinar – 12/14/16

On 12/14/16 a webinar was presented by WTA Board Member – Shiloh Schauer and WTA Lobbyist – Becky Bogard. Throughout the summer and fall of 2016 a Legislative Taskforce made up of 10 legislators from both houses and both sides of the aisle have been working on a new bill that will be introduced in the 2017 Legislative Session. This bill will fund a new statewide tourism marketing program. This webinar explains where we are today in the governance structure, the components of the marketing program and the funding mechanism. It is important to note that this is a starting place and the details could change throughout the session and legislative process.

To view the webinar, click here.

The WTA Mourns the Passing of Donna Cappa

The board members and staff of the Washington Tourism Alliance were saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Donna Cappa. Donna died this weekend after being in a terrible accident on Friday night.

Donna was the Director Of Sales and Hotel Operations for the Tulalip Casino and a WTA board member. She was a strong advocate for the WTA and worked tirelessly for the betterment of the entire Washington tourism industry. Donna will be greatly missed by her friends and colleagues at the WTA.

Please join us in keeping her family and friends in our thoughts during this difficult time. If you are able and interested, click here to assist the family with funeral expenses and emergency surgery hospital expenses that were incurred.

A service for Donna will be at Tulalip Resort in the Chinook Room at 10am on Saturday.



Join the WTA for our Legislative Webinar on December 14th


Get ready for 2017! Join the Washington Tourism Alliance for a special Webinar on Wednesday, December 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. where you can learn more about legislation to establish a statewide tourism and marketing program. The legislation is the result of a 2016 Tourism Working Group of legislators and industry leaders who support a state tourism marketing program. The webinar will cover the basics of the proposal and highlight the governance structure and potential mechanisms for funding the new statewide tourism marketing plan. The legislation may change over the course of the 2017 session, but this is a great opportunity for you to understand and support the initial concepts and show your support through the grassroots network of outreach.

Washington Tourism Alliance Grassroots Webinar
Wed, Dec 14, 2016 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States (Toll-free) +1 (646) 749-3131 +1 (646) 749-3131

Access Code: 381-599-725

The 2017 Tourism Summit and Day in Olympia is now FREE!

Thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to offer all the programs of the 2017 Washington Tourism Summit and Day in Olympia at no charge!

It is now going to be even easier to join the WTA on January 24th, 2017 in Olympia at The Washington Center for Performing Arts. The Summit program will include a keynote address from Roger Dow, the President and CEO of the US Travel Association, a Tourism Works for Washington rally and briefing of Tourism legislation, one-on-one meetings with legislators at the Capitol, and a fabulous evening reception at The Governor Hotel.

For those of you who signed up for the 2016 Washington Tourism Summit your registration fee will be refunded and your registration will roll over to the 2017 Summit. You will not need to re-register
We hope you will join us for this exciting and productive day! Encourage everyone in your community to join us in Olympia on January 24.  Click here to learn more and register.

WTA Grassroots Webinar 11/18/16

On 11/18 the WTA presented a short webinar to help people learn how about the Washington Tourism Alliance’s new grassroots campaign to bring back a statewide tourism marketing effort.

This seven and a half minute webinar includes:

  • A short history of the WTA
  • A brief summary of the progress of  WTA Legislative Taskforce
  • the reveal of the new campaign brand and logo
  • a video that provides an example of how to use the campaign brand and logo
  • how to access and utilize the campaign tools available on

Click here to view the webinar. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Mike Moe at

October/November Newsletter

Mike Moe, Associate Director 

The 2017 Washington Tourism Summit and Day in Olympia has been scheduled for January 24th at The Washington Center for Performing Arts in downtown Olympia. The Summit will be combined with a Tourism Works lobby day on the hill.

We are excited to announce Roger Dow, the President and CEO of the US Travel Association as the keynote speaker for the Summit. Since 2005, Roger has led the US Travel Association and has been instrumental in transforming the organization into one of the most effective industry associations in the country.

As our members and industry partners know, a legislative task force has been meeting regularly throughout the second half of 2016 to develop our long-term funding plan that will be presented as legislation during the 2017 congressional session. This task force includes legislators from both the House and Senate and each of the political caucuses, as well as WTA board members.

The morning session will include legislative members of the task force from both sides of the aisle who will provide an update on our legislative plan. The morning will also include a “Grassroots Rally for Success”. You will learn how to mobilize your community to help pass this important legislation and gain the tools to successfully lobby your legislators. We will make afternoon appointments with your legislators so you can urge them to support the tourism industry and the new WTA legislation.

Please join us for an evening reception in the Legislative Meeting Room at the Governor Hotel. Please note that this year’s reception is at the hotel, not the Governor’s Mansion as it has been in previous years. The reception will feature Washington Wine and hors d’oeuvres.

If you registered for the October 14th summit, your registration will roll over to the rescheduled event.

There is no need to re-register. If you registered and can’t make the rescheduled event, please contact Diana Thibado at to transfer your registration or to receive a full refund.

If you haven’t registered, please click here for more details. We hope that you can join us in January and stay tuned for more details to come on this exciting event!


Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick  
As WTA moves forward in formulating a proposal for statewide tourism marketing, it is important to take stock of the impact of the 2016 elections for executive and legislative positions.
For the most part, the results of the statewide elections are settled. However, there are still some legislative races that are in doubt and they may affect the composition of the legislature.
On the statewide races, the results are as follows:
  • Governor – Jay Inslee (D)
  • Lt. Governor – Cyrus Habib (D)
  • Secretary of State – Kim Wyman (R)
  • Treasurer – Duane Davidson (R)
  • Attorney General – Bob Ferguson (D)
  • State Auditor – Pat McCarthy (D)
  • Commissioner of Public Lands – Hilary Franz (D)
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction – Chris Reykdal (Non-Partisan)
  • Insurance Commissioner – Mike Kreidler (D)
In the state Senate, it appears the majority will remain with the Majority Coalition Caucus (made of 24 Republicans and one Democrat). There is still one race in doubt. Incumbent 5thdistrict Democrat Mark Mullet leads his challenger, Chad Magendanz by about 1100 votes.
There will be a new senator appointed to replace the late Sen. Andy Hill. This person has to be the same party as Sen. Hill who was a Republican. Additionally, there will be a new senator appointed to replace Sen. Pam Roach, who was elected to the Pierce County Council, a full time job. The appointment will also be a Republican. On the Democratic side, there will be a new senator to replace Sen. Habib, who is now the Lt. governor. There will also be a new senator to replace Pramila Jayapal who was elected to Congress.
There will be some changes in committee chairs. It is anticipated that Sen. John Braun (R, Centralia) will replace Sen. Hill as chair of Ways and Means. There will also be a new chair of the Senate Education Committee.
In the state House of Representatives, there are several races still in doubt that, depending on the outcome, could impact the majority. The pre-election balance is 50 Democrats and 48 Republicans. Democrats lost a seat in the 31st district (Auburn) but appear to have picked up two seats in 30th district (Federal Way). In the 19th district (Longview, Grays Harbor, Pacific County), the Democrat, who lead by 86 votes, is now behind and will probably loose. What this all means is that the House will most likely be 50-48, the same as the current makeup.
The House may reduce the number of committees, and there may be some changes in current committee chairs. Reorganization efforts in the House begin this coming Friday, November 18. This will include determining the committee structure and assigning members to committees.
It doesn’t really seem like the elections will make many changes that will impact tourism legislation. Many of our advocates got re-elected. Some moved from the House to the Senate. The balance of power in and between the two houses of the legislature is virtually the same.
Progress to date.
The discussions of the tourism working group continue. While there seems to be general agreement on the structure and content of a statewide tourism marketing program, there is still not consensus on how to fund the effort. Many ideas have been discussed and undoubtedly will continue to be discussed as the legislative session progresses. There will be a working group conference call on November 21 to discuss options further and to try to come to a consensus or at least agree on a place to start. More details of the legislative proposal will be available by the end of the year, if not before.

Mike Moe

As advertisers all over the state start to plan for next year, the ExperienceWA Monthly Email ads are already filling up. Every month we send out an email to our subscriber base that features two articles about different experiences throughout Washington. There are a number of ways to advertise in the monthly email, but only one headline Sponsor position. Half of the 12 sponsor slots have already been taken! If you are interested in sponsoring an email, don’t delay.
Our Custom Emails are also tremendously popular because these emails are all about you! Your business or organization gets 100% share-of-voice, which makes them extremely effective. These emails can be customized for a single story or you can team up with partners to make it a co-op. Again, these spots are already filling up. In 2017 we’ll send out three Custom Emails a month, and while each month still has at least one spot available, four months only have one left! If your strategy includes targeting specific months, reserve your spot as soon as possible.
If you want pricing or more information, click here for our Media Kit. To reserve your ExperienceWA Email ad space, call Mike Moe at 425-444-0589 or email him at


Want to brag about something your destination was recently recognized for? Have news that impacts Washington State tourism? Please add the WTA to your distribution news list! We’re always looking for story ideas for the WTA monthly newsletter! To submit a story idea, email Diana Thibado at