APPLICANTS FOR THE WASHINGTON TOURISM MARKETING AUTHORITY NEEDED!

Background: During the 2018 legislative session, E4SSB 5251 was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Inslee. This new law creates a structure for implementing a statewide tourism marketing program. While the program itself will be executed by a private, non-profit organization, there is a new board within the Department of Commerce that will have oversight for the program. This entity, the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA), is made up of nine representatives from the tourism industry and four legislators. In addition, there is an advisory committee to the WTMA that is primarily composed of government officials.

The program is funded by both state general fund monies and other match monies. Those monies can be from the private sector and other non-general fund state sources. Matches can also be in-kind donations such as the Washington Hospitality Association’s travel guide.

Under the new law the WTMA has specific duties. It is authorized to enter into a multi-year contract with statewide nonprofit organization in existence on the effective date of the law whose sole purpose is marketing Washington state to tourists. The Authority board will not execute the plan but rather will oversee it. Secondly, the WTMA is authorized to contract for the evaluation of the impact of the marketing program. The WTMA must pay the administrative expenses to the Department of Commerce. Finally, the WTMA will determine what qualifies as a match.

The new law outlines the scope of the marketing program to be executed by the contractor. It includes focus on “rural dependent counties, natural wonders and outdoor recreation opportunities of the state, attraction of international tourists, identification of local offerings for tourists, and assistance for tourism areas adversely impacted by natural disasters.” (E4SSB 5251, section 6 (a)).

Qualifications of WTMA Board Members. The new law has some very specific qualifications for WTMA board members. The nine tourism related members must have expertise in the industry and related businesses. Specific industry segments are noted in the statute and they include hotels, restaurants, outdoor recreation, attractions, retail and rental car businesses. However, members are not limited to these industry segments. In addition, the board must be geographically and ethnically diverse and represent both small and large businesses.

Appointment Process. Legislative appointments are made by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate (the Lieutenant Governor). Eight of the industry appointments are made from lists provided by the Speaker and the President of the Senate. Each of these two officials must submit a list of ten names to the governor by May 1, 2018. The governor has one appointment that he can make independent of these lists.

The nominations from the Speaker must include at least one person from each of the following sectors: restaurant, rental car and retail. The other seven names may be from any other tourism sector. The nominations from the President of the Senate must include at least one person from each of the following sectors: hotel, attractions, and outdoor recreation. No person can be on both lists.

While there is no official application, applicants should submit a letter stating their current position and other pertinent background information, their knowledge of the industry and why they want to serve on the WTMA.

In order to meet the May 1 deadline, both the Speaker’s office and the President of the Senate’s office have asked that applications be submitted to them by April 20. If you are interested in being considered for the WTMA, here are the addresses that you should use when submitting and application:

Frank Chopp, Speaker of the House
ATTN: Cathy Maynard
LEG 339C
Olympia, WA. 98504-0600
Or by email: cathy.maynard@leg.wa.gov

Cyrus Habib, President of the Senate
ATTN: LaTasha Wortham
LEG 220
Olympia, WA. 98504
Or by email: Latasha.wortham@leg.wa.gov

While the final lists put together by these two offices may not have the same names, you are welcome to apply to both. You should include a resume and a short statement about why you want to serve on the WTMA and why you are qualified.

To apply for the position that the governor will appoint, please go to the following website and complete the application. https://www.governor.wa.gov/boards-commissions/boards-commissions/apply-serve-board-or-commission

No person may serve on both the WTMA and the contractor selected to execute the marketing program. For instance, if you are member of the WTA board, you will need to resign your position before you apply to WTMA.

Please direct any questions to Becky Bogard at becky@bogardjohnson.com.

March WTA Newsletter – Governor Inslee Signs Tourism Bill!

WTA Update

Today at 2:37pm, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5251 into law. This moment is the result of seven years of hard work and tenacity by the tourism industry in Washington State.  Even when faced with immense obstacles, our WTA board members, legislative team, supporters and advocates never wavered in their determination to make this happen. We cannot thank you enough for your support!

With a marketing plan in hand and a bill now signed, our real task has just begun. However, to make our marketing plan a reality, there are still steps to be taken before we can begin. As you’ll read in the article below, the process for selecting the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA) will take place over the next couple of months. Once the WTMA is established, the industry will need to provide two dollars for every dollar of state funding. While the WTMA will determine the different ways match funding can be raised, membership will remain an important way to support the WTA.

In this new chapter, we must continue to build upon our strong partnerships.  The challenge to reestablish a statewide tourism effort inspired the industry to come together in a way it never has before. Every sector of our industry, from every region of our state has worked together over the past seven years, and we will continue to count on that unity moving forward. We are excited for what’s to come and look forward to working together to build a marketing program that will make Washington proud!

IT’S DONE…BUT IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING!

Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick 

On March 5, the final step in legislative approval of the statewide tourism marketing bill took place when the Senate concurred by a unanimous vote in the House changes to E4SSB 5251. At that point the bill was on its way to the governor’s desk and Governor Inslee signed the bill yesterday.

The governor also signed the supplemental appropriations bill yesterday. That bill has $1.5 million for FY 2019 to implement the new tourism marketing law.

The tourism legislation had wide legislative support. In its final form, it passed both houses unanimously. We have many legislative leaders to recognize but really all legislators deserve thanks for working with us on this journey to get a new statewide tourism marketing
program established. Some deserve special recognition.
Here are just a few of the Senators who played a particularly important role:

  • Sen. Dean Takko (D., Longview) – a member of the work group that help write the legislation and the prime sponsor of the bill that passed
  • Sen. Christine Rolfes (D., Bainbridge Island) – a member of the work group, co-sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee which included funding in the 2019 supplemental budget to implement the legislation
  • Sen. Sharon Brown (R., Tri-Cities) – a member of the work group and supporter of the 2018 funding and getting the bill passed
  • Sen. Maralyn Chase (D., Shoreline) – chair of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee and co-sponsor of the bill
  • Sen. Judy Warnick (R., Moses Lake) – former chair of the Senate Trade and Economic Development and co-sponsor of the bill

For the House, here are a few representatives who played a visable and vocal role:

  • Rep. Cindy Ryu (D., Shoreline) – a member of the work group, co-sponsor of the House bill and chair of the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Cary Condotta (R., Wenatchee) – prime sponsor of the House version of the bill and member of the work group
  • Rep. Gael Tarleton (D., Seattle) – a member of the work group and staunch advocate for the bill
  • Rep. Andrew Barkis (R., Lacey) – co-sponsor of the House bill, a member of the work group and ranking member of the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Gina McCabe (R., Goldendale) – a hotelier and vocal advocate for the legislation, who helped her colleagues understand the importance of tourism
  • Rep. Mike Chapman (D., Port Angeles) – advocate for the legislation because of its impact on rural areas

Again, all legislators deserve thanks. These are just a few who played a special role!

On behalf of my legislative team, I want to thank all of you who helped get this passed. Each of you played a critical role. You came to testify, you wrote letters when we needed them, you called your legislators and you came to tourism day. We could not have done it without you!

So now the real work begins! Under the process established in the new law, the first thing that needs to happen is for the governor to appoint the members of the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA) by July 1. He will be making nine appointments to the WTMA board, primarily from lists provided to him by the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor. These appointments are supposed to be from the tourism industry and must include at least one each from the following sectors: lodging, restaurants, rental cars, outdoor recreation, retail and attractions.

If you are interested in being on the WTMA board, you must submit an application to either the speaker of the house, the lieutenant governor or both. These offices have until May 1 to put together their lists. The offices have indicated that they would like to have information from interested parties by April 20. WTA will be providing more specific contact information in the next week. If you are interested in being on the WTMA board, you cannot be on the board of an organization that might be the contractor for implementing the statewide marketing program.

Once the WTMA board is appointed, they will need to meet and organize for moving forward. Among other things, the board will be tasked with contracting with an entity that will implement a statewide tourism marketing program and determining what constitutes a match. Remember that state general funds have to be matched on a 2:1 basis.

Once the contractor is selected the WTMA will be responsible for making certain that the new marketing efforts reflect the priorities in the law. And, of course, there will be the job of making certain there are matching funds and in-kind contributions to make the program a success.

You have all been helpful with our efforts to date. We look forward to working with you as the program becomes an actuality!

WTA THANKS BOARD MEMBER KRIS WATKINS

Diana Thibado, Director of Operations

The WTA would like to sincerely thank Kris Watkins for her dedicated service to both the Washington Tourism Alliance and Washington State tourism. Kris will retire on April 6th after leading Visit Tri-Cities as President and CEO for more than two decades.

Kris joined the WTA board in 2015 and served as a passionate advocate for statewide tourism funding during that time.  We sincerely appreciate everything she’s done to support tourism throughout her career and especially her strong advocacy during the critical legislative process over the past 3 years. Kris wanted to share the following words with her industry colleagues:

My career in the tourism industry has been an adventure, an education and an exciting experience all rolled into one. And one of the greatest honors of my career was serving on the WTA Board.

The timing of my retirement is somewhat bittersweet because we are on the cusp of creating tourism greatness. I am thrilled with the passage of tourism funding bill. It is vitally important to have an appropriately funded state tourism program, and the bill before the Governor is a great first step to creating a strong WTA. I am excited to see what will be accomplished as more tourism jobs are created and tourism continues to flourish in cities and counties throughout Washington State.

However, as I look back, one of the greatest treasures of my career is the relationship I have built with you, my tourism colleagues. I have made so many wonderful lifetime friends in the tourism industry, and for that, I am very grateful.

Thank you for 24 wonderful years in tourism.

We wish Kris nothing but the best in her retirement!

YAKIMA CENTRAL PLAZA MOVES FORWARD

The Yakima Central Plaza Steering Committee successfully completed a campaign that raised $9.6 million from nearly 500 donors for the City of Yakima to build a new gathering space in Downtown Yakima. Slated to open in late 2019, the Yakima Central Plaza will be a three-acre open space. The park like square will have many features including a shaded grove with seating, running water channels, water jets for children and various structures.

John Cooper, CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism and a board member of the Washington Tourism Alliance, was on the committee of community leaders that raised the funds. Yakima Valley Tourism’s non-profit foundation was also a conduit for many of the donations. “The plaza will be a major catalyst for the positive development of downtown Yakima” stated Cooper. “Not only will it be a gathering place for the residents, it will be a draw for groups and visitors.” The plaza is designed by renowned landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson, a Yakima native who designed the Princess Diana Memorial in London and the grounds for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the project visit  www.yakimacentralplaza.com.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

WASHINGTON STATE’S NEWEST DRIVE TOUR: THE SOUTH CASCADES LOOP

VISIT TRI-CITIES ANNOUNCES NEW CEO

SEATTLE SOUTHSIDE HOSTS TOURISM SYMPOSIUM MARCH 29TH

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 THANKS DECEMBER, JANUARY, AND FEBRUARY MEMBERS

NEW MEMBERS

Global Yodel, Vance Creek Railriders, Visit Kent

RENEWING MEMBERS

Campbell’s Resort, Cascade Loop, Chateau Ste Michelle, City of Edmonds, City of Gig Harbor, Discover Lewis County, Explore Port Orchard, Food Services of America, Grays Harbor County, Hilton Garden Inn – Yakima, Hilton Vancouver Washington, Holiday Inn Express – Puyallup, Jefferson County Tourism, Munchen Haus Bavarian Grill and Beer Garden, Olympic Peninsula Gateway Visitor Center, Prosser Chamber of Commerce, Puget Sound Express, R. C. Hedreen Co, REI Seattle, River Park Square, San Juan Cruises, San Juan Island Outfitters, San Juan Safaris, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Southside, Smith Tower, Space Needle, Spokane Public Facilities District, Swinomish Casino & Lodge, The Embassy Suites – Sea-Tac, Three Rivers Convention Center, Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, Visit Spokane, Washington Bed and Breakfast Guild

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Managing Director Mike Moe or join today online here.

WTA Tourism Bill Passes through the Legislature

Thanks to your advocacy efforts the statewide tourism marketing legislation- Engrossed 4th Substitute Senate Bill 5251- passed the House UNANIMOUSLY, after being voted out of the full Senate UNANIMOUSLY last month. This day would not be possible without the hard work and support of so many over the last 7 years. We want to thank our legislative team, the Washington Hospitality Association, all the other industry groups in Washington who helped advocate for our bill and most importantly, YOU for getting us over the finish line this session!

The final steps will include going back to the Senate for concurrence, inclusion in the supplemental operating budget, and Governor Inslee’s signature. We have one last ask of you.  Please make sure you send a note to your legislators thanking them for their support! All House and Senate members voted in support of the bill!

Please look for more information in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, let’s all celebrate how far we’ve come and the exciting future of tourism in Washington state!

WTA Newsletter – December 2017

WTA UPDATE 

Mike Moe, Managing Director

In November, the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA), along with the Department of Commerce (Commerce), entered into an agreement with GreenRubino to create a marketing plan for tourism in Washington State. After six years of hard work by our board of directors, staff, and volunteers all over the state, we are very excited to take this next step in our mission to finally reestablish a statewide tourism marketing effort. In the 2018 legislative session, we will still count on you, our partners and industry stakeholders, to spread the message and support the WTA, but we will have a new story to tell and a new vision to share.

Last summer, the legislature passed an operating budget that included a proviso with funding to build the marketing plan. The bill allocated the dollars to Commerce “solely for the department to formulate a statewide tourism marketing plan in collaboration with a nonprofit statewide tourism organization as provided in Substitute Senate Bill No. 5251.” The WTA worked with Commerce to draft an RFP that was dispersed in early October. There were eleven responses to the RFP, which were graded in accordance with strict state standards by a committee comprised of WTA board members and Commerce staff. The proposal from GreenRubino was the successful bid.

Before the ink was dry on the contract, GreenRubino hit the ground running. They met with the WTA and WSDMO boards to hear feedback and are already in the process of conducting several surveys to assess the current state of the tourism industry in Washington. The goal of this process isn’t to come up with a new brand or a catchy slogan, but to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the industry in our state and to fully understand how a statewide organization can best work with existing regional destination marketing organizations, local associations, government entities, and most importantly tourism-related businesses. We’re developing a road map, so our statewide tourism marketing organization will know exactly where to go when the legislature passes our bill in 2018.

 

NOVEMBER ELECTIONS AND TOURISM GOING FORWARD
Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick

 

2017 Elections. The results of the November 2017 elections brought a shift of power to the Washington State Legislature. With the decisive win of now Sen. Manka Dhingra, the Democrat running to replace the late Sen. Andy Hill, control of the Senate shifted to the Democrats. Now the Senate, the House and the governor’s office are controlled by one party, the Democrats.

In the Senate, this means that all the committee chairs have changed. Sen. Christine Rolfes (D., Bainbridge Island) is now chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the budget writing committee. Sen. Rolfes is very familiar with tourism; she served on the interim work group in 2016 that crafted the legislation intended to establish and fund a new statewide tourism marketing program. Sen. Maralyn Chase (D., Shoreline) is chair of the Economic Development and Trade Committee, the substantive committee that oversees tourism issues. Sen. Chase was a co-sponsor of SB 5251, the legislation that grew out of the 2016 working group.

However, tourism is not really a partisan issue. We have support for the WTA legislation from both sides of the aisle. Key members like Sen. Sharon Brown (R., Richland) and Sen. Judy Warnick (R., Moses Lake) will still be critical to the success of our efforts. Similarly, in the House, Rep. Cary Condotta (R., Chelan), Rep. Andrew Barkis (R., Olympia) and Rep. Gina McCabe (R., Goldendale) will continue to be important in securing support in the House. House Democrat members who have been critical to our success include Rep. Cindy Ryu (D., Shoreline), Rep. Gael Tarleton (D., Seattle) and Rep. Nicole Macri (D., Seattle).

Status of Tourism Legislation. Both HB 1123 and SB 5251 are still alive. The “life” of a bill is two legislative sessions. Since this proposal was introduced in the 2017 legislature, it is alive for the 2018 legislature.

In the House, SHB 1123 remains in the House Appropriations Committee. The legislation had a hearing, but the committee did not take action before the legislature adjourned last July. In the Senate, 2SSB 5251 is in the Senate Rules Committee. It passed out of both the Senate Economic Development and Trade Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee. As the session was adjourning, WTA was working with sponsors to try to get some agreed to language about funding.

Marketing Plan. In the meantime, the legislature did approve $500,000 in the 2017-19 biennial budget for the Department of Commerce (Commerce) to work with WTA to put together a draft statewide tourism marketing plan as required in 2SSB5251. Although the latter legislation did not pass, Commerce has worked with WTA to ensure that the marketing plan follows the substance of 2SSB 5251. Please see Managing Director Mike Moe’s article for more details about the work on the marketing plan.

It is anticipated that the statewide tourism marketing plan will be in a form that can be used to show legislators the benefits of passing legislation that will enable the plan to be implemented.

Going Forward in the 2018 Session. WTA is currently working with lead legislators to get an agreement on language for 2SSB 5251 and SHB 1123, particularly regarding state funding and the match. Additionally, there are technical amendments which must be made to update the bill. Most of these relate to dates which are deadlines for certain things to occur. WTA is also working with key members of the fiscal committees, particularly the Senate Ways and Means Committee, to get funding for the second year of the biennium in the supplemental budget.

In summary, WTA has two “asks” for this session. First, we want the bill providing the mechanism for tourism funding passed and signed by Governor Inslee. (This is either SHB 1123 or 2SSB 5251.) Second, we need funding in the supplemental operating budget so that the implementation of the marketing plan can move forward.

Please come to Olympia on January 29-30 to meet with your legislators to ensure they will support our requests!

2018 WASHINGTON TOURISM RALLY INFORMATION

Diana Thibado, Director of Operations

RSVP now for the 2018 Washington Tourism Rally! Our annual event takes on a new look as we celebrate the successes of the past year and meet with legislators to build on the progress made during the last legislative session. There is no cost to attend this rally, but we need to get your RSVP by December 22nd so we can secure appointments with your legislators.

The rally will kick off with a reception hosted by the Washington Hospitality Association at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia on the evening of January 29th, 2018. The next morning, January 30th, we will gather at the United Churches of Olympia for a legislative briefing, and review talking points and handouts for your legislative meetings. A formal schedule of the day and other information will be circulated in early January.

Hotel block information will be available soon. Please click here to RSVP by December 22nd to ensure you get the most up to date information about the rally.

EXPERIENCEWA.COM DEALS AND NEWSLETTER COMBO
Mike Moe, Managing Director 

Does your business have a great winter deal ready to be offered to shoulder-season travelers? Connect with people who are planning a trip in Washington on the ExperienceWA.com Deals Page and through the ExperienceWA eNewsletter!

Now is the time to double up and place your best offers on both ExperienceWA.com – and its opt-in monthly eNewsletter.

ExperienceWA reaches Washington-bound travelers who are looking for deals and information to plan their best vacation. Place your offer on ExperienceWA.com for three months and add that deal for one month on the e-Newsletter for the low combo rate of only $550!

Here’s what you’ll receive:
* 3 months placement in the deals vault on ExperienceWA.com
* 1 month placement in the Deals and Events section of the monthly ExperienceWA eNewsletter

This deal is only good if booked in December, so contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance or call him at 425-444-0589 today!

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

SKAMANIA LODGE UNVEILS NEW OUTDOOR AERIAL PARK

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 THANKS AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, AND NOVEMBER MEMBERS 

 

Adrift HotelAmerican Hertiage RailwaysAuburn Tourism BoardBainbridge Island Chamber of CommerceBainbridge Island Downtown AssociationBale Breaker Brewing CompanyBellevue Square CollectionBellingham Whatcom County TourismBill Speidel’s Underground TourBogard & Johnson LLCBookwalter WineryCanlis RestaurantChihuly Garden and GlassCity of IssaquahCity of Port AngelesCity of RedmondCity of SequimClarion Hotel SeatacClipper NavigationColville Chamber of CommerceCourtyard by MarriottCowlitz County Tourism BureauEdelmanExperience OlympiaFour Seasons Hotel SeattleHampton Inn RichlandHampton Inn Spokane AirportThe HerbfarmHilton Garden Inn Spokane AirportHilton Vancouver WashingtonHoliday Inn Express & Conference CenterHolland America LineHomewood Suites RichlandHotel AndraHotel Rio VistaKalispel Tribe of IndiansKenmore AirLedgestone HotelNorthwest Travel MagazineNW ToursOlympic Peninsula Tourism CommissionPandion ConsultingParadigm Communications GroupPort of EdmondsPort of IlwacoPort of SeattlePullman Chamber of CommerceQuality Inn OakwoodQuinault Beach Resort & CasinoRenton Chamber of CommerceSeattle AquariumSeattle Monorail ServicesThe Westin BellevueThe Westin SeattleTillicum VillageVisitor Guide PublicationsVisit RainierVisit Tri-CitiesW Seattle HotelWashington Hospitality AssociationWashington State Convention CenterWashington State Wine CommissionWenatchee Valley Chamber of CommerceWSDMOYakima Valley Tourism

 

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Managing Director Mike Moe or join today online here.

WASHINGTON STATEWIDE TOURISM MARKETING PLAN RFP

In the 2017-19 state operating budget, the Washington State Legislature appropriated funds to the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and directed the department to use the funds in collaboration with the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) to develop a draft statewide tourism marketing plan. Since the end of the legislative session, WTA representatives have been working with Commerce to develop a request for proposal (RFP) to find a qualified entity with marketing expertise to work with the two organizations.

Commerce has officially published the RFP on the WEBS for Vendors website. A copy of the RFP can be found here. The RFP includes the scope of work, qualifications for applicants and timeline for submittals, among other information. To respond to the RFP, please register here. Questions about the RFP should be directed to the RFP Coordinator designated in the document.

We wanted to make sure that you as tourism professionals had a copy of this document. Please feel free to circulate it to anyone who you think might be interested and qualified. Thanks for your assistance in getting the word out!

WTA Summer Newsletter

WTA UPDATE

Mike Moe, Associate Director

There is no better place to be in the summertime than Washington. It’s the busiest time of year for the tourism industry because all around our state, visitors are enjoying the beautiful destinations we have to offer. It’s also a busy time for the WTA as the results of the last legislative session become clearer. While there was no floor action taken on our bill (SHB 1123/SSB5251) in the last legislative session, it is very much alive if the legislature reconvenes and will still be alive next session.

Our bill enjoys widespread, bi-partisan support as we head into 2018 thanks to the WTA lobbying and grassroots team and the hundreds of industry stakeholders who made sure their voices were heard by contacting their local representatives. The legislative budget included a specific appropriation item of $500,000 for fiscal year 2018 to the Department of Commerce to work with the private sector (the Washington Tourism Alliance) to develop a tourism marketing plan.

In the coming weeks, the WTA will work with the Department of Commerce to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) to select a contractor to develop a Washington State Tourism Marketing Plan. The details of the RFP will be made available as soon as possible. Our goal is to have a full marketing plan in hand when the next legislative session begins in January.

 The funding to create a statewide tourism marketing plan is a giant step ahead in our mission to reestablish a statewide tourism marketing effort. The WTA has never had access to dedicated funds to fully develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for Washington. This is truly an exciting time for the tourism industry in Washington because we’ll finally have an opportunity to show what it will look like to market our beautiful state.

Since 2011, the WTA has been working to reestablish a statewide tourism marketing organization. We know that the road has been long and we sincerely appreciate the support shown by businesses and organizations from across our state. The WTA is here today because of the extraordinary energy of our supporters. A big thank you goes out to every WTA member and industry stakeholder who participated in the grassroots effort this legislative session. As we start this new chapter, we hope that your enthusiasm and passion for the WTA mission endures and that you will continue to support our efforts.

 

IT’S NOT OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER
Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick  

 

The session ended but is it really over? On July 20, the third special session of the 2017 Washington State Legislature ended with a bit of a whimper. While there were many accomplishments, including passage of an operating budget right before the “shutdown” deadline, some major things were left undone. Although the legislature is not officially in session, work continues on two major pieces of legislation which failed to pass. The two items, the capital budget and a fix to the Hirst decision, have been politically linked; that is, passage of one is linked to the passage of the other.

Hirst was a state supreme court decision that limited private water rights. Specifically, a person wanting to develop a well on a residential site was limited by existing water rights including those of tribes and others. The developer community has asserted that this decision has stopped virtually all residential development. It is admittedly a very difficult issue to resolve. Several offers have been made but there has not been one acceptable to all the different parties involved.   The impact of Hirst is felt disproportionately in rural areas.

 The capital budget contains construction projects funded by the state. Failure to pass this budget has stopped may ongoing construction projects. While there are projects in rural areas, many believe that the capital budget is more important to urban areas. In fact, there is a document that is a so-called “agreed to” capital budget but the Senate will not consider passing it until a solution to Hirst is found.
What this means is that the legislature may not really be done. If Hirst and the capital budget can be resolved, then Governor Inslee will most likely call the legislature back into session to pass both.
Tourism funding outcome. As reported to WTA members, earlier, the FY 2017-19 operating budget had two provisions relating to tourism. They are as follows:
  • The FY 2017-19 budget contains $500,000 for the development of a statewide tourism marketing plan before July 1, 2018. While the budget language calls for this to be accomplished under the guidelines of SSB 5251, the tourism marketing bill supported by WTA. Since that legislation did not pass, WTA is working with the Department of Commerce to determine how the funds will be spent to develop the required plan. It is anticipated that an RFP for a marketing plan consultant will be issued soon.

The FY 2017-19 budget also contains a provision for a tourism “sector lead”. The purpose of the sector lead is to have a voice for the industry within the Department of Commerce and a line for communication to the governor’s office. The budget provision allows Commerce to designate an organization as a sector lead. WTA is working with Commerce to establish the parameters for the tourism sector lead and to hopefully have WTA designated as the lead.

As these activities are going on, we continue to talk with legislators to gain support for the comprehensive tourism marketing legislation, SHB 1123 and SSB 5251. Both bills will still be alive at the start of the 2018 session. Before the start of the 2018 legislative session we will be meeting with our key legislative supporters to get their advice on how to proceed. Assuming a marketing plan is crafted with the funds provided in the budget and legislators buy into the plan, legislation will be necessary to establish the mechanism for implementing the plan. That means we will be calling on all of you to work with your legislators for their continued support for a tourism market including program.

 WTA BOARD UPDATE
The WTA is pleased to announce the selection of two new board members: Shaun Tucker and Ron Williams.
Shaun Tucker is the General Manager of the Alderbrook Resort and Spa in Union, Washington. He sits on the Mason County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and has been a property level GM since 2005. Shaun will represent Resorts on the WTA Board.
Ron Williams is the Executive Director of Visit Walla Walla and has extensive experience in both the non-profit worldand wineries. Ron will be filling the vacant Southeast Washington position on the WTA board.
Ron and Shaun hit the ground running by participating in the August board meeting and we are excited to work with them as we put together a statewide marketing plan.
 The WTA would also like to thank Cheryl Kilday of Visit Spokane for three and half years of leadership of the WTA as the Chair of our Board of Directors. The WTA would not be where it is today without her. Her experience and steady hand guided the WTA and helped mold our organization into what it is today. Cheryl will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and on our Executive Committee as Past Chair. Filling her large shoes will be Andy Olsen from Columbia Hospitality. Andy has served on the board and on our Executive Committee since WTA’s inception in 2011 and has been instrumental in leading our legislative efforts. After a smooth transition, the WTA leadership role certainly remains in capable hands.

 

EXPERIENCEWA.COM FALL PROGRAMS
Mike Moe, Associate Director 
Connect with people looking for things to do in Washington this Fall on ExperienceWA.com. We have several programs that will help you connect with users who are actively planning a trip in Washington. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Banner Ads: Our REWARDS program doubles the number of impressions you purchase for free. This year, our Banner Ad program is averaging a cost-per-click of $1.47, which is outstanding! Our Banner Ad packages start at only $604 for WTA members ($683 for non-members)
  • Deals Page: Highlight a special value-added package or discounted getaway on our Deals page. The specials on our Deals page are averaging less than $1.00 cost-per-click in 2017! You can highlight a package on our Deals page for only $450 for 3 months ($495 for non- WTA members) or $1,500 for a full year ($1,650 for non-members).
To check our full media kit, please click here. To learn more or to set up your fall campaign, email Mike Moe or call him at 425-444-0589

 

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 atdiana@watourismalliance.com.

 

WTA WELCOMES MAY, JUNE, AND JULY MEMBERS 

NEW MEMBERS:

Wildlife Trekking

 
RENEWING MEMBERS:

Arctic Club SeattleArgosy CruisesButler TransportationCedarbrook LodgeChrysalis Inn & SpaClark Nuber, PSColumbia HospitalityCopacino & FujikadoFran’s ChocolatesHard Rock Cafe, Holiday Inn Express – BellinghamHoliday Inn Express – PuyallupHoliday Inn Express – Spokane ValleyHoliday Inn/Express of Yakima/EllensburgHomewood Suites – SeattleHyatt Regency BellevueLynnwood PFDMaryhill Winery, McMenamins Olympic ClubMt. Adams Chamber of CommerceMt. Baker Foothills Chamber of CommercePineapple HospitalityQuality Inn Valley SuitesSaga City MediaSeattle Times CompanySheraton Bellevue HotelSheraton Seattle HotelSkagit Valley TourismSleeping Lady Mountain ResortSpringHill Suites – SeattleSpringHill Suites – WenatcheeTourism Walla WallaVisit Kitsap PeninsulaVisit Lewis Clark ValleyVisit SpokaneWhidbey & Camano Island TourismWing Luke Museum
If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Associate Director Mike Moe or join today online here.

Great News from Olympia!

WTA TOURISM CALL TO ACTION  

CALL/EMAIL YOUR LEGISLATORS IMMEDIATELY
Contact your legislators NOW and ask them to support SSB5251 to create a Statewide Tourism Marketing Program.

The bill will be considered by the Senate Ways & Means Committee early Friday and then on to the Senate and House floors.

We need to reach every legislator!

Tell them to Vote YES on SSB5251to establish a Tourism Marketing Authority and the critical framework necessary to establish the statewide marketing program for Washington State.

  • VOTE YES on SSB5251
  • The structure of a Tourism Marketing Authority is necessary to ensure accountability and a return on the state investment.
  • Tourism impacts more than hotels, restaurants and destinations.  It benefits retailers, outdoor recreation, state parks, ports and cities….and ultimately the taxpayers of Washington.
  • A statewide tourism marketing program would concentrate on bringing more tourists to Washington from outside the state and nation.
  • The Washington Tourism Alliance believes there is a minimum of a three-to-one return to the state treasury on investment for the proposed statewide tourism marketing program.

This return on investment will happen quickly.  Unlike other state programs that may take years to show results, increased tourism will return the investment almost immediately.

WTA ACTION ALERT! CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY!

ACTION ALERT!

CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY

HELP THE WTA BRING A STATEWIDE TOURISM MARKETING PROGRAM OVER THE FINISH LINE

The Washington State Legislature is in the final days of passing a new state budget and we need to make sure our priority legislation SHB1123/SSB5251 is passed and funded for the 2017-19 biennium. The current deadline for a new budget is June 30, a week from Friday!

Our WTA grassroots network has been awesome in contacting legislators over the past few months but we need you to do it again …and soon! Even if you’ve already send an email, text or made a call, please make those outreach contacts again this week!

The basic messages:

  • We urge you to talk to your leadership and budget negotiators and ask them to make sure SHB1123/SSB5251 are funded in the state budget and bills are passed to implement the program in the 2017-19 biennium.
  • The small investment by the state will be matched 2-for-1 by the tourism industry and provide almost immediate returns on the investment to state coffers. The important tax and spending revenue generated by tourism will make a difference for years to come.
  • Washington is the only state in the nation without a statewide tourism marketing program.
  • Our communities do an excellent job with local lodging taxes to promote themselves, but to grow tourism revenues for the state, Washington needs to have a statewide tourism marketing program that brings national and international visitors into Washington state. One of the primary goals of the legislation is to reach travelers and get them to areas of the state outside urban centers.

Everything you need is on the Tourism Works page. You’ll find talking points and a link to find your legislators’ contact information. Please forward this message and webpage link to your network. Every name counts.

 

Social media is especially important in these final days of the session. Please use the hashtag #tourismworks on all your posts and tag your legislators to let them know you support statewide tourism marketing.

 

Find the WTA on Twitter @WTAlliance and Facebook .

If you need anything for your own advocacy and grassroots efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact Barbara Smith or Mike Moe.

What They Are Saying

What they are saying about a statewide tourism marketing program

 

We are now urging our colleagues to ensure the final state budget contains funding for a new Tourism Marketing Authority….While we fully appreciate the many difficult budgeting choices to be made this year, supporting tourism is a straightforward way to boost state revenues.

Guest Editorial, The Daily News, Longview, WA  Sen. Dean Takko (D-19) and Judy Warnick (R-13)

 

A statewide tourism marketing program can only be accomplished by a Tourism Marketing Authority that focuses on bringing new visitors to our state.  Localized promotion will remain the job of our creative and unique communities.

11 members – Washington State Senate

 

If the legislature doesn’t act this year, the most basic tourism functions now provided by the non-profit Washington Tourism Alliance inducing the only statewide tourism website may not be able to continue.  Inaction may also endanger the opportunity to compete on any level with other states for national and international travelers and get them to areas of the state outside Seattle and other urban centers.

24 Members, House Democratic Caucus

 

The tourism industry will continue to be there to help fund a statewide marketing effort but we need the structure and leadership provided in the legislative proposal to be effective and competitive.

Alaska Airlines

 

The state is significantly behind in tourism investment.  Tourism promotion in neighboring states like Oregon and Montana vastly exceeds that of Washington.  This bill is a down-payment in the right direction.

The Big Tent Outdoor Recreation Coalition

 

It is important for the state legislature to pass authorizing legislation as well and provide funding in the state budget for a statewide tourism marketing program. The structure of a Tourism Marketing Authority is necessary to ensure accountability and a return on the state investment. A budget allocation alone won’t provide the guidance as defined by a working group of bipartisan legislators from both the House and Senate who spent several months in the 2016 interim developing the program.

Economic Alliance of Snohomish County and 13 Snohomish County local governments

 

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.

Statement of Support – signed by more than 300 tourism advocates statewide

 

 Dozens of Public Facilities Districts (PFDs) work hard in every region of our state to attract visitors to our publicly-owned trade and convention centers, stadiums, arenas and performing arts centers. These facilities host events that generate millions in visitor spending, contribute to local economic development, and provide jobs and tax revenue. Many of our facilities were built with bonds secured by local lodging taxes. Those funds are not available for use for marketing to bring in visitors from outside our state. We need a statewide tourism marketing program to effectively compete with our neighboring states

Association of Washington State Public Facilities District

 

The robust benefits that can be realized from tourism growth warrant the support of a new statewide marketing program that can cohesively, collaboratively and effectively increase the reach and awareness of the whole of Washington state as a visitor destination, working to bring benefits and opportunities for business, industries and communities across region.

British-American Business Council

Dean Runyan State Report Overview

Washington State Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume, 2000-2016 – Preliminary Dean Runyan Associates April 2017

Overview

Summary The Washington State economy saw robust growth in 2016, which stimulated in-state consumer confidence and many industries in the state.

As Washington residents currently comprise two thirds of all trips to destinations within the state, tourism visitations, expenditures and visitor-generated tax revenues grew. The pace of overall tourism growth slowed, however, and Washington has dropped in stature from the state’s fourth largest industry to fifth largest.

• Overall visitation in Washington increased modestly (1.7 percent), compared to 3.2 percent growth the previous year and 2.5 percent visitation growth in Oregon in 2016. • While state residents are helping sustain tourism in their own back yard, Washington is failing to attract out-of-state visitors at comparable rates to competing states. • While Sea-Tac International Airport reported record passenger volumes and 11.1 percent growth in international passengers in 2016, spending by foreign visitors in Washington decreased slightly due the strength of the U.S. dollar or competition from other U.S. destinations. • Tourism disparity between Washington’s urban and rural counties continues. Compound average annual tourism growth between 2010 and 2016 shows that King, Pierce and other urban counties are as much as 50 percent above their long-term growth levels, in stark contrast to most other counties in the state which are at or below those growth levels. • Travel spending and employment grew at 4.4 percent, respectively, buoyed by robust hotel occupancies in Seattle and other urban centers, an 8 percent reduction in motor fuel prices, instate consumer confidence and other factors.

Tourism Snapshot – preliminary $21.4 billion Visitor expenditures 40.1 million Overnight person trips $1.8 billion State and local visitor-generated tax receipts 177,000 Jobs supported by tourism throughout the state

Business and Competitive Landscape in 2017 • Competing western states continue to invest significantly in tourism as a driver of jobs, economic impact and relieve for communities that incur natural disasters and other crises. Oregon plans to double its state tourism budget over the coming biennium to $76 million. • The position of the U.S. dollar, travel security and U.S. immigration policy are expected to continue to soften inbound business from overseas markets to the U.S. Some destinations have launched overseas advertising campaigns to counteract these challenges.