March 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE 
Louise Stanton-Masten  

We are excited to report the release this month of the 2015 official Washington State Visitors’ Guide. Produced in a partnership with the WTA, the Washington Lodging Association (WLA) and SagaCity Media, the 2015 edition marks the 16th annual publication of the guide. With a circulation of 375,000 copies, the guide has a readership of nearly one million. Along with our website, www.experiencewa.com, the guide is a primary tool for marketing Washington State.

The print guide is linked to www.experiencewa.com. Prospective travelers can read the guide online and order a free copy through the website. The 2015 official Washington State Visitors’ Guide highlights the state’s ten travel regions and includes regional maps, insider travel trips, itinerary suggestions and contact information for an array of standout local businesses and attractions. This year’s guide features trips of a lifetime and Washington’s national and state parks, and highlights Native American museums,  golf, fishing, birding and more. It has three unique covers to underscore the beauty and breadth of Washington State visitor experiences.

Some 65,000 copies will be mailed to Seattle Met and Portland Monthly magazine subscribers, and other copies will be featured at 2,000 visitor centers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington State and Vancouver, B.C. The guide is also available for purchase on newsstands and checkout counters at Whole Foods, QFC, Fred Meyer and Barnes & Noble and other retail locations in Washington, Oregon and California. Travelers can also access versions of the guide that are optimized for iPads, Android tablets and smart phones, and they will be able to read and order copies of the visitors’ guide online at www.StayinWashington.com, the WLA’s  consumer travel website.

2015 Guides

We encourage you to order your copy of the guide, and contact SagaCity if you would like to arrange for multiple copies for distribution.

 

WTA LEGISLATIVE REPORT
Becky Bogard  

On March 20 the House Finance Committee held a hearing on proposed Substitute House Bill 1938. While the new proposal maintains the principles of industry funded and industry controlled, it modified the collection process so that the Department of Revenue would collect all the statutory fees and deposit them in the state tourism marketing account. Previously the legislative proposal had depended on other state collection systems.

Cheryl Kilday, President of Visit Spokane, described the statewide outreach to the tourism community since the closure of the tourism office in 2011. That outreach solicited ideas about funding and implementation of a marketing plan as well as a description of the plan finally incorporated in the legislative proposal. Andy Olsen, Chair of WTA’s Long Term Funding Committee reviewed the way the proposed fees were determined and described industry input about the proposed fees. Bruce Beckett, Director of Government Affairs for the Washington Restaurant Association described the reasons for restaurant industry support of the proposal and the process his association used to arrive at its support and fee proposal. Becky Bogard, Government Relations Consultant for the WTA, reviewed the history of state tourism activities and funding, explaining why the industry chose to pursue the proposal before the committee. There were over a dozen organizations signed in supporting the bill and no one testifying or signing in opposed.

Representative Steve Tharinger (D-Grays Harbor) noted, “This is a $17B industry that we are not marketing right now.” Tharinger recognized that if the state wants to be marketed, the effort needs to be funded and, “[these sectors] have come together to figure out a financing way to do that, that’s outside of our general fund.”

Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), chair of the committee recognized that surrounding states, “put substantial dollars into tourism, which is a critical industry to our state” adding “to get the industry to proactively come to the table (they must) clearly believe in the overall return on investment.”

Rep. Cary Condotta (R- Chelan) was vocally and strongly opposed to the proposal saying 90% of Chelan would be “taxed” and called it a “forced union” and “fascism.” Other legislators questioned the “consent mechanism” and asked how we can ensure that all areas of the state would be represented.

The WTA panelists responded that these fees would be used by the industry to implement a program that benefitted all parts of the state because, among other reasons, the WTA board is quite diverse geographically and size of businesses. Many WTA members were well aware of the shortcomings of the previous state program and, with industry leadership, do not intend to repeat those mistakes. With respect to the support of the industry the panel reiterated the significant outreach to the large number of tourism related businesses.

On the Senate side we are waiting for a hearing to be scheduled in the Ways and Means Committee on SB 5916, the companion to SHB 1938. SB 5916 was reported out of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee, but needs to be considered and reported out of the Ways and Means Committee before a full vote of the Senate can take place.

These bills are exempt from self-imposed deadlines the legislature establishes because they produce new revenues. What this means is that we have until the end of the regular session, April 26, to get either the House or Senate bill passed by the legislature and to the Governor for his action.

While we do have bi-partisan support for the bill, vocal opposition, as was displayed in the March 20 hearing, from legislators threatens our efforts as we go forward. Please remember to contact legislators when we ask you to and urge them to support this proposal. Your voice and action is critical to our success.

We are the only state in the nation without a state-funded tourism office/marketing authority. We are breaking new ground and we have developed a proposal that has been deeply and thoughtfully crafted with input from around the state and different sectors since the summer of 2011. We have spent years traveling the state, updating as many businesses and organizations as possible; seeking input and gathering feedback. We have invested time and energy into meeting with other states, commissions, legislative and state agency staff to find out what is possible and what is not, while maintaining an ‘industry funded – industry driven’ proposal. We realize, and anticipate, that there will likely be tweaks we need to make to the law once it is enacted. However, what’s important at this time is that we work together to advance and advocate for this legislation, because, without it we have nothing.

 

A TRIBUTE TO DIANE SCHOSTAK
Christina Pivarnik, WTA Board of Directors and Marsha Massey, OPVBureau Interim Executive Director

We are all greatly saddened by the news of Diane Schostak’s passing on March 23. She and her husband had traveled to Bakersfield, CA in mid-February to be with her daughter, son-in-law and newly born twins. Her health worsened quickly, but she had time to be with many family members who traveled to California to surround her in love.

Diane

Diane was a visionary, a dedicated and tireless leader in building the tourism industry for the Olympic Peninsula and across the state. Her collaborative spirit brought various voices together so we could all sing in chorus. Through her commitment to partnerships and her cooperative spirit, Diane always kept her eye on the big picture, and inspired all who knew her to do so as well. Her love of the Olympic Peninsula went deep and was infectious in imparting that love.

Diane has left a great foundation on which to continue to build. From early on, she was actively engaged in support of marketing Washington State. She was a strong ally of the former state tourism office, and when it closed, she was instrumental as one of the first WTA board members helping to lay the groundwork for our industry-funded, statewide tourism marketing program currently with the legislature.

Those of us on the Olympic Peninsula are committed to carrying on her legacy of collaboration and outreach. We will miss her energy and passion and great embrace for all. Our thoughts and prayers go out in support of her family. No further arrangements have been advised at this time. We’ll let you know when we have additional information.

 

MUMFORD & SONS EXPECTED TO GENERATE $12 MILLION FOR WALLA WALLA

The recent announcement that Grammy Award winning band Mumford & Sons will hold one of its four U.S. “Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festival” events in Walla Walla Aug. 14-15 was certainly great news to fans of the British folk rock band, but business leaders in Walla Walla saw a different silver lining to the two-day festival.

StopOver

Conservative estimates by the City of Walla Walla, Tourism Walla Walla, and the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation put the community-wide economic impact of this festival-which is expected to draw up to 30,000 attendees, many of whom will be visiting Walla Walla for the first time-at $12 million.

“From tasting rooms and restaurants, to lodging properties, retailers, and attractions, we are confident that almost all aspects of the Walla Walla business community will benefit from the economic impact this festival will generate,” said Ron Peck, executive director of Tourism Walla Walla.

In choosing Walla Walla as a 2015 Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festival, event promoters gave a nod to many of the same characteristics that make Walla Walla a popular tourist destination including small town charm, friendly and welcoming residents, and the a willingness to roll out the red carpet for both performers and festival-goers.

“Many of the qualities that have earned Downtown Walla Walla a Great American Main Street designation since 2001 are the very same attributes that contributed to Mumford & Sons’ decision to pay a visit to Walla Walla” said Peck.

Tickets to the two-day festival, which features a lineup of 10 performers including Mumford & Sons, The Flaming Lips, and Seattle-based rock band Foo Fighters, cost $199 and can be purchased at http://www.gentlemenoftheroad.com/.

 

MILES WINS SILVER ADDY FOR EXPERIENCEWA.COM EMAIL

We are proud to announce that The Washington State Leisure Monthly Marketing Email produced by our Destination Marketing Partner, Miles, has won a Silver ADDY award in the Digital Advertising – Online Publication category. This leisure email is sent monthly to a subscriber list of 17K and growing. The email consistently sees an open rate of over 52%, over twice the Travel & Leisure Industry average. The Click to Open Rate is 23% – also double the industry average and the email delivered over 15,000 page views to ExperienceWA.com in 2014!

The email content follows an editorial calendar determined by seasonality and search volumes featuring Washington events, vacation ideas, travel offers and more. If you are interested in paid opportunities to be featured in an upcoming email, please contact Mike Moe at Mike@WAtourismalliance.com or 425-444-0589 and if you are not already receiving the email, please subscribe here: http://www.experiencewa.com/email-newsletter-sign.

To see the full 2015 ExperienceWA.com Media Kit, please click here.

 

WATCH VIDEOS FROM THE 2015 WTA TOURISM SUMMIT AND DAY IN OLYMPIA

For those who missed the phenomenal speakers at the 2015 WTA Tourism Summit or want to revisit the inspirational presentations, videos of each speaker are now available on the WTA’s website.

You can also watch interviews discussing the importance of tourism in Washington with the keynote speakers Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon and Chris Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA, as well as  Cheryl Kilday, WTA Board Chair and President and CEO of Visit Spokane, Louise Stanton-Masten, Executive Director of the WTA, and Tom Norwalk, President of Visit Seattle.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

CELEBRATE WOODINVILLE ANNOUNCES DATES AND LINE-UP OF MUSICIANS

WESTPORT WINERY WINS THREE SILVER MEDALS AT 2015 FLORIDA STATE FAIR INTERNATIONAL WINE AND JUICE COMPETITION

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES

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 diana@watourismalliance.com.

 

WTA WELCOMES FEBRUARY MEMBERS

NEW MEMBERS:

Recreation Northwest   

RENEWING MEMBERS:

7 Cedars Casino & Resort Properties, Bellair Charters, Chateau Ste Michelle, City of Port Townsend, Clarion Hotel Seatac, Cowlitz County Tourism Bureau, Hilton Vancouver Washington, R.C. Hedreen Co, Tourism Walla Walla, WBBG

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.