Since the tragic wildfires in eastern Washington began last month the WTA has been working with our industry partners to provide timely information about the impact on tourism activities in those areas. We’ve posted information on www.ExperienceWA.com with a link to WSDOT travel updates for road closures and traffic diversions, and have posted updates on the WTA Facebook page.
Local communities are responding as conditions change, and want travelers to know that most are open for business and welcoming visitors. The Leavenworth and Lake Chelan Chambers of Commerce have let us know that they are inviting visitors, are unaffected by smoke and fire and businesses are open and operating as usual. There are communities which have been severely impacted by the fires, particularly in Okanogan County and the Methow Valley. Annette Pitts, WTA Board member and Executive Director of the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway, reports that Okanogan County is open ready for guests as well. Local charities and many businesses have stepped up to provide direct support to wildfire victims.
The WTA will continue to work with our tourism partners as they address the impact of these fires, and now the recent mudslides in Okanogan County. As we have when other disasters have struck the state, such as the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge, the landslide in Oso, and now the wildfires and mudslides of eastern Washington, the WTA will do what we can in both the short-term and long-term to help support the tourism efforts of these communities and to spread the message about local tourism opportunities.
I’m pleased to report that according to Snohomish County, tourism is recovering from the devastating effects of the Oso landslide. Their Visit Stilly Valley summer promotional campaign has resulted in visitors attending events and attractions with numbers continuing to increase. (See the article elsewhere in the newsletter for more about the results of these efforts.)TOURISM MATTERS TO THE REGION’S LARGEST GATEWAY AND WTA BOARD MEMBERS HELPED TELL THAT STORY IN LATE JULY Jane Kilburn, WTA Board of Directors; Port of Seattle Director Tourism Development and Communications Counsel
The Port of Seattle, a major supporter of WTA, conducted a Commission- hosted Tourism Roundtable on July 22 at a top tourist venue, the Museum of History and Industry. Andy Olsen, Vice President, Columbia Hospitality and WTA co-Vice Chair, and Dan Moore, CEO, Pandion Consulting and Facilitation and WTA board member, addressed tourism’s positive impact on our state’s economy, and how to fund and expand tourism in the state.
“It’s important to remember that SHB 2229 remains a work in progress, in that we owe a report back to the Legislature this December. We are by no means done with the funding model, but we are committed to work with state agencies to come up with a solution that is broad-based and appropriate,” said Olsen.
“Tourism is about storytelling, and in tourism development, seasonality is an issue. We need everyone’s help in promoting off-season,” said Moore.
Other panelists included Chris Stone, Vice President, Washington State Wine Commission; Linda Springmann, Vice President, Holland America Line; Nigel Barron, Sales & Marketing manager, CSR Marine; Ron Peck, Executive Director , Tourism Walla Walla; Commissioner Pete Hanke, Port of Port Townsend; Peter Schrappen, Director of Government Affairs, Northwest Marine Trade Association; and Angela Shen, CEO, Savor Seattle.
Three days later, Kevin Clark, President and CEO, Argosy Cruises and past Chairman of WTA, joined other panelists at the World Trade Center for a breakfast discussion entitled, “Capturing the Lucrative Tourist.” Port Commissioner Bill Bryant moderated the discussion. Clark and his fellow panelists emphasized the need to work cooperatively with other tourism businesses in order to attract visitors. Social media also gained some attention. “We love it when people take pictures of their meal or their trip because they are posting about us, “said Clark.
Clark joined panelists Nathan Perea, CEO and Director of Economic Development, Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce; Debbie Waldrop, General Manager, The Resort at Port Ludlow; and Chad Mackay, President and CEO of El Gaucho Hospitality.
As the Visit Stilly Valley summer promotional campaign starts to wind down, visitors attending events and attractions continue to climb to near pre-SR530 slide levels. The robust marketing effort led by Snohomish County was enhanced by a collation of ten leading conservation and recreation groups that acted quickly to further promote the areas outdoor recreation assets by creating a colorful brochure map spotlighting recreational opportunities and local businesses that cater to outdoor enthusiasts around Darrington.
American Whitewater, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Outdoor Research, REI, The Access Fund, The Mountaineers, The Wilderness Society, Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club, Washington Climbers Coalition, Washington Trails Association and Washington Wild created the map to put the Washington town of Darrington “on the map” as the “Gateway to the North Cascades,” for world-class fishing, hiking, camping, biking, rafting and more. REI covered the costs to print 20,000 hardcopies of the destination map and both REI and Outdoor Research distributed them in their stores in the region.
“The conservation and recreation community was happy to do what we could to support the local economy of Darrington in the wake of the tragic slide,” said Dan Ritzman of the Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club “This is a small part of the statewide and national response to help. We appreciate efforts by Senator Patty Murray to bring our communities together and make a difference.”
It’s not too late to visit the region or to download the free Destination Darrington map. Visit http://www.destinationdarringtonmap.com/or pick one up (also free) at the cash register on your next visit to REI or Outdoor Research.
WTA RECOGNIZES RETIRING BOARD MEMBER DIANE SCHOSTAK
In July, WTA Board of Directors member Diane Schostak announced her retirement as Executive Director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau and her resignation from the WTA Board. Diane served the WTA as Olympic Peninsula regional representative since 2011 and was one of the original members of the WTA Board.
Diane was recognized by her tourism colleagues at a reception at the Bureau to celebrate her retirement on July 24. The WTA took that opportunity to express the appreciation of our Board and staff for all that Diane did for tourism in Washington, her passion for our state and her support of the work of the WTA.
WTA Board Chair Cheryl Kilday wrote to Diane, “The success you have had on the Olympic Peninsula to establish a collaborative regional tourism program is what attracted the Washington Tourism Alliance to you. As a board member your wisdom and dedication were sought after and you gave freely of yourself. You also have become a true champion in showcasing the attractions of the Olympic Peninsula to a great many international visitors and fam. trips in partnership with others in the state.”
We will all miss having Diane as an active member of the WTA but know that even in her retirement she will still be supporting tourism on the Olympic Peninsula. We wish her well in her retirement and in this new chapter of life.
NEW VINEYARD JOINS VANCOUVER USA’S GROWING CRAFT BREW & WINE SCENE
Vancouver USA has added another winery and event venue to its burgeoning wine and craft brew scene. Joining 16+ other wineries in Clark County, Village Vineyard serves not only as an organic winery with grapes cultivated through a European tying method, but also as a bed and breakfast and event venue capable of hosting up to 500.
The Vancouver USA region has undergone a recent influx in its growing wine and brew industry, with 20+ microbreweries and a distillery rounding out the area’s craft drink scene. Local events such as the Vancouver Brewfest and the upcoming Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival (Aug. 21 – 24) have further bolstered the awareness and recognition of Clark County wine and brews throughout the Northwest.
For a complete listing of Vancouver’s wineries and breweries please click here.
SERIOUSLY SOCIAL SCENIC BYWAYS WORKSHOP IN LEAVENWORTH
In a survey conducted by VGP Destination Marketing, of 129,517 consumers over the past five years who ordered a Washington State Travel Planner, 110,089 (85%) said they wanted more information about Scenic Drives & Road Trips.
On September 25-26, nationally-renown rural tourism authority Andy Dumaine will be speaking in Leavenworth at a Scenic Byways Workshop. Network with colleagues and get marketing tips from a team of experts; share marketing ideas with other local DMOs and Scenic Byway team leaders. Sponsored by WTA Member VGP Destination Marketing, this event is open to anyone with a small marketing budget who wants big ideas for how to spend it wisely.
GET INVOLVED WITH EXPERIENCEWA.COM!
Now is the time to include the ExperienceWA website in 2015 budget plans. The newly re-launched statewide website will be the best resource for potential tourists looking to visit Washington in the upcoming year. Make sure you can capture this extremely qualified audience by taking advantage of all the new features of ExperienceWA.com including:
- Featured listings that will separate you from the over 10,000 free listings currently on the site
- A deals page that highlights your special offers
- A lead generation program that lets you connect with users who have specifically asked for information about YOUR business!
- Banner advertising that is completely customizable so you can reach your target audience
- A monthly eNewsletter program that reaches almost 20,000 subscribers with an over 50% open rate
- Custom emails that give you 100% share of voice and reach those same qualified subscribers
- Sponsored articles written about your destination or business on ExperienceWA.com
In 2015 there are limited slots available for some of these new features. Call Mike Moe at 425-444-0589, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, call Lisa Schwartz at 206-679-1930 or email her at email@example.com today!
NEW MAP FEATURE ON EXPERIENCEWA.COM
The new map feature on Experiencewa.com is live! It takes advantage of Google’s cluster feature to create a truly interactive experience for the user. Visitors can view the state as a whole or zoom in on the areas they would like to visit. Users can also click on categories to find the types of businesses or activities they’re interested in.
From lodging to visitor centers to outdoor activities, the categories (driven by partner listings on the site) can be filtered by region, city and what’s “Near Me Now.” Once they’ve chosen a business or activity, visitors can click right through to the partner’s listing for more details.
MAXIMIZE YOUR PRESENCE ON THE WTA WEBSITE
Did you know that every tourism related business in Washington is entitled to a listing on the ExperienceWA website, www.experiencewa.com? If you are not listed on the website, please contact Mike Moe, WTA Director of Business Development and Media Sales at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on supporting tourism promotion in Washington State by linking your website to the ExperienceWA website, click here.
ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE 2015 WASHINGTON STATE VISTORS’ GUIDE
Production is now underway on the 2015 Washington State Visitors’ Guide. With a readership of nearly one million prospective travelers seeking tips and information on where to stay, eat, and play in Washington, the 2015 Guide is a great marketing opportunity. For more information on advertising, with discounted pricing exclusively for WTA members, contact Jeff Adams at SagaCity Media (email@example.com or 206-454-3007).
WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS
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 Rutledge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WTA WELCOMES JULY MEMBERS
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 email@example.com or join today online here.