WTA Newsletter – September

WASHINGTON TOURISM MARKETING AUTHORITY HOLDS FIRST MEETING, SELECTS WTA FOR TOURISM MARKETING CONTRACT  

Mike Moe, Managing Director  

The Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA) held its first meeting on August 30th at Sea-Tac International Airport and voted to pursue a sole source contract with the Washington Tourism Alliance. If adopted, this contract will allow the WTA to begin implementing the marketing plan developed in early 2018 by the state and our tourism partners.
Made up of nine tourism professionals and four legislators from across the state, the WTMA was created as an oversight board for the new statewide tourism marketing program.

In addition to its favorable WTA decision, the new board had an ambitious agenda to work through in its inaugural meeting. The first task was to elect officers for its Executive Committee. Judy Tuohy of Schack Art Center in Everett was elected as the first Board Chair. Anthony Anton of the Washington Hospitality Association was elected Vice-Chair, Vijay Patel of A1 Hospitality as Secretary, and Robert Lerch of EDI Holdings/Enterprise as Secretary. The WTMA also established three initial committees: Finance, Bylaws, and Policies.

For more information about the new WTMA Board, please click here.

WTA COMMITTEE UPDATE

David Blandford and Shiloh Burgess, WTA Board Co-Chairs<

There is much work to do as we begin to establish framework for a new tourism marketing program and the decision to pursue a sole-source contract with the WTA will jump-start the program. While the WTA can’t officially begin to market tourism on behalf of Washington State until the contract is adopted and signed by the WTMA, we are working hard to be ready for that day. The WTA board created committees for marketing and outreach to begin planning our path ahead.

The Marketing Committee will execute the statewide tourism marketing plan. Over the next three months, its goal is to build a 2019 marketing program that achieves broad industry support and engagement. The committee will focus on consumer marketing, including brand development and advertising; travel trade and packaged travel development; destination publicity; crisis communications; website, collateral and visitor information development; and destination development.

The purpose of the Outreach Committee is to foster investment, collaboration, and support for the statewide marketing program creating opportunities to procure $3 million in private sector investment in 2019. The Tourism Marketing Bill requires two dollars of industry investment for every dollar procured by the state and the committee will match marketing opportunities with investors. While investment is crucial to the success of the new program, the Outreach Committee will also work to increase awareness of programs that are free for any tourism-related business or organization. This group will work to build relationships with industry groups, Washington-based businesses, as well as local and state government entities.

It’s an exciting time for the tourism industry in Washington state. After seven years, our hard work is paying off and were moving forward with broad support and strong momentum. Please continue to support our efforts and get ready to be involved!<

WTA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

YOU’RE INVITED TO THE LARGEST EVENT & HOSPITALITY TRADE SHOW IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

With 115,000+ square feet of exhibit space, the re-imagined 2018 Northwest Event Show offers the latest trends and innovations in the event and hospitality industry.

Join Us on October 16, 2018 at the Washington State Convention Center!

Network with 2,500+ of the most qualified event, corporate and meeting planners, including an impressive number outside the Seattle area. One-third of the currently registered attendees are first-time visitors to the show.

The Butler Team encourages you to join more than 250 leading companies who are exhibiting their venues and services to professionals. We are looking to bring in unique event ideas, live entrainment options, fresh décor ideas and unique catering solutions to satisfy anyone’s taste buds.

We invite you to showcase your business at the Northwest Event Show

Butler Events is an award-winning company that places a high value on exceptional customer experiences. That’s why this year’s show has been re-imagined and grown to inspire creativity and networking. The Butler team has gathered some of the most influential people in the industry to be part of the Show and their Show Advisory Board. They’ve partnered with Supirb Events, a media tool, to give attendees a new and exciting way to plan, organize and share information while participating at the event. It is quickly becoming the event where Innovators and Influencers Connect.

The Butler team invites you to become a sponsor of the show, register to attend or claim a booth space.

INCLUDE EXPERIENCEWA.COM IN YOUR 2019 ADVERTISING PLANS 
Mike Moe, Managing Director 

2018 has been another outstanding year for the advertisers on ExperienceWA.com. The official tourism website for Washington State has proven to be the best place to connect with people who are planning their trip to our state.  As your business or destination plans for the coming year, we would like to share some highlights from the past year.

This year we have continued our REWARDS Program for our banner ad platform and it has been extremely successful. Many of our advertisers are only paying an average of just over $2.00 per click. That is WAY below industry standard. The fact that ExperienceWA website visitors are there specifically to learn about travelling in Washington State only make these clicks more valuable.

Our monthly eNewsletter and Custom eNewsletter program was also big in 2018. As you know, there are limited spaces available spaces for 2019 are already filling up! If you want advertising space in our eNewsletter or to run a Custom eNewsletter, let us know as soon as possible.

Finally, our most successful program to date has been our Custom Content Creation. Our editors will work with you to write an article about your destination or property. You will get 100% approval throughout the process. Your article will live on ExperienceWA for a full year with an option to renew, and even better, you get to keep the article for your own website forever. One article has had 10,000 page views and generated more than 3,200 clicks to their website in in the last year!

There are so many different ways to reach the qualified audience of ExperienceWA.com. To learn more, please contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or call him at 425-444-0589. Or, click here to view the full ExperienceWA.com Media Kit.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

LONG BEACH PENINSULA INVITES VISITORS TO THE WILD MUSHROOM CELEBRATION

WTA THANKS AUGUST MEMBERS

NEW MEMBERS

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.

Wildfire Joint News Release

As Wildfires Affect Western United States, Tourism Leadership Establish West Coast Tourism Recovery Coalition to Share that the West is Open for Business

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tourism leaders from California, Oregon and Washington are working together to welcome visitors this summer amid a rash of wildfires in the West.

While the West Coast has dealt with dozens of wildfires in primarily rural areas, the visitor experience remains largely unaffected.  The perception that the majority of the region is burning has prompted visitors to cancel trips even in communities hundreds of miles from the fires.

“Visitors spend a combined $166 billion in our states, and travelers will cancel trips if they don’t have information to help them make a safe choice,” said Caroline Beteta, president & CEO of Visit California.

In a recent study conducted by Visit California, 11 percent of travelers  said wildfires prompted them to cancel trips to California, representing a loss of $20 million to the state’s tourism economy last month. In Oregon, similar concerns have arisen with a  Travel Oregon wildfire study from 2017 showing $51 million in tourism revenue lost last year alone.

Of the three states’ combined total of more than 205 million acres of land mass, less than 1 percent has been affected by fires  in 2018. Across all three states, all gateway airports and roads are open. Most tourism regions and icons remain untouched.

The West Coast  Tourism Recovery Coalition will raise public awareness about the hundreds of  communities and experiences that are unaffected throughout the region. More importantly, the Coalition aims to encourage travelers to return to these communities to help in the healing process for those who were affected.

“Wildfires know no borders, and have unfortunately become a way of life in the American West, especially in rural communities that rely on welcoming visitors from around the world during the busiest summer and fall seasons when fires most often occur,” Beteta said.

Coalition partners have committed to work together to provide on-the-ground updates to tourism industry businesses and residents, collaborating closely with regions affected by fires and their respective government agencies.

“Wildfires have been a part of summer travel on the West Coast for many years,” said Shiloh Burgess, Co-Chair of the Washington Tourism Alliance. “As destination marketing organizations at the state and community levels offer broader and more current travel tips and advisories, we find travelers are better prepared to adjust their plans – and to resume plans when fires ease.”

“As fires subside and smoke clears away, all Americans can support these communities by visiting fire-impacted areas for vacations this year,” Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson said. “Not only will you have world-class experiences, but you’ll create  memories to cherish on the spectacular west coast while also helping your fellow Americans in recovery efforts.”

Travelers  considering a trip to the West Coast can find the latest fire and air quality information  at CalFire.ca.gov or Airnow.gov for California, oregonsmoke.blogspot.com for Oregon; or gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc  for the Pacific Northwest.

For more information and communications issued by the West Coast Tourism Recovery Coalition, contact Ryan Becker at rbecker@visitcalifornia.com.

Interview requests can be facilitated with executive leadership of the coalition including Caroline Beteta, President & CEO of Visit California; Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon Shiloh Burgess, Co-Chair of Washington Tourism  Alliance and Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of Visit Seattle. For individual interviews, use contacts above. To request a group availability, contact Odalys Flores, NJF PR Account Supervisor, oflores@njfpr.com or (310) 569-6859.

Media Contacts:

Ryan Becker | Vice President of Communications, Visit California                  (916) 505-2842  | rbecker@visitcalifornia.com

Linea Gagliano | Director of Global Communications, Travel Oregon              (503) 729-6021 | linea@TravelOregon.com

David Blandford | Co-Chair, Washington Tourism Alliance
(Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Visit Seattle)                                            (206) 461-5806 | dblandford@visitseattle.org

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Travel Advisory: Washington Wildfires

Updated: August 23, 2018

Several wildfires are currently burning in Washington State with containment is nearing on some. While wildfires are common in the summer, the vast majority of the state is unaffected, open for business and ready to receive visitors.

Smoky skies have pervaded the state during the last week with conditions ranging from moderate to unhealthy, but the extended forecast calls for clearing skies beginning today.

Roads are open and the state’s gateway airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, has no travel advisories at this time.

Travel Resources:

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources also maintains an active fire map at https://www.dnr.wa.gov/Wildfires

Or you can follow the DNR’s wildfire updates on Twitter at @waDNR_fire (#WaWILDFIRE)

For current air quality related to wildfire smoke, visit the Washington State Department of Ecology at

www.ecology.wa.gov or check smoke status in your area: http://wasmoke.blogspot.com./ For national air quality updates by zip code (including Washington State): www.Airnow.gov

WTA Leadership

WTA Board of Directors

David Blandford – Senior Vice President, Public Affairs Visit Seattle  Executive Committee, WTA Board Co-Chair

 David Blandford is Senior Vice President, Public Affairs Visitor Seattle, where he oversees public policy, industry advocacy, government relations, crisis communications and strategic communications. He previously served as Vice President, Communications for several years where he led the public relations department and directs many aspects of organizational communications. His career in tourism began with statewide travel promotion, running press trips throughout Washington and working closely with the state tourism office on destination PR programs. Blandford currently serves on the Communications Committee of the U.S. Travel Association and previously was President of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and served on the board of directors of the Society of Amerian Travel Writers.

Shiloh Burgess– Executive Director, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, Executive Committee, WTA Board Co-Chair

Shiloh Burgess is the Executive Director of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce (WVCC) whose mission is to champion the Valley’s quality of life and economic vitality through collaborative leadership and sound business advocacy.
Prior to joining the Chamber in 2013, Shiloh served as the executive legislative assistant for Retired State Senator Linda Evans Parlette for ten years. She was recognized in 2010 by the Wenatchee Business World as one of the best and brightest leaders under the age of 35, and then in 2013 as the Wenatchee Valley Business Women of the Year. Shiloh currently serves as Co-Chair for the Washington State Tourism Alliance (WTA). Prior to this, she served as the WTA’s Vice Chair (2018), and the Legislative Chair (2016-18). During her time as Legislative Chair, Shiloh was instrumental in securing the legislation and supporting budget appropriation to re-establish a statewide tourism marketing program.
Shiloh is also a past board member of the Association of Washington Business, and former member of their executive board. In 2014, Shiloh was appointed to serve as a member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Parks and Outdoor Recreation in 2014. She has also served as a member of the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Policy Advisory Committee since 2015.

Andy Olson – Vice President, Columbia Hospitality                                        Executive Committee, Past Chair

 Andrew Olsen has over forty years of varied experience in the hospitality and leisure industries.  His background includes property and asset management, market research and financial analysis, expert testimony, and receiverships and trusteeships. Mr. Olsen has been an Adjunct faculty member at the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management.  He is currently on the Advisory Board for Washington State University’s School of Hospitality Business Management, a Board member of the Lynnwood Public Facilities District in Lynnwood, and Immediate Past Chair of the Washington Tourism Alliance. Mr. Olsen is a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants and the Cornell Hotel Society.  He is also past chair of the Board of Directors of the Washington Lodging Association. Mr. Olsen received his B.S. degree from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.

Cheryl Kilday – President & CEO, Visit Spokane                                                  Executive Committee, Past Chair

Cheryl Kilday has almost 30 years’ experience in the tourism industry, which includes a background in destination management and marketing, brand management, hotel sales and catering, meeting planning and event management.  Cheryl also earned the prestigious Certified Destination Marketing Executive (CDME) designation through Destinations International in 2011 and has earned the DMAP accreditation in both Loudoun, VA and Spokane, WA. Cheryl joined Visit Spokane in 2010 after living in the Washington DC region in Northern Virginia for several years.  She began her tourism adventure in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and often relays that the three destinations where she has worked all have wine experiences and Nordstrom as part of their visitor appeal. Cheryl currently serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the Washington Tourism Alliance, Washington’s statewide tourism organization that replaced Washington’s government-run tourism office and a Trustee for the Destinations International Travel Foundation.  Cheryl is active in state, regional and national tourism-related organizations, is on the Design Steering Committee for Riverfront Park, the Mobius Board as well as a variety of community boards and committees.

Skip Thompson – Director of Airline Marketing Services, Boeing          Executive Committee, Secretary

 As Director of Airline Marketing Services, Skip Thompson is responsible for building a preference for Boeing products with airline customers, global airline alliances, the travel trade and the premium passenger segment.  Focused on airline and leasing customers in Europe, Thompson leads the marketing consultation with Boeing’s airline customers to drive innovative marketing solutions and to maximize customer revenues and yields. Prior to his current role, Skip was a Sales Director for Boeing in the Middle East & Africa region.   In this role, Skip worked extensively with Boeing airline customers at all levels including aircraft acquisition, marketing, scheduling, finance and other strategic areas.  Before to his sales role, Skip led a new team within Boeing which was created to cooperate with new startup airlines around the globe and assist them toward launching service. Skip has his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University in Economics and International Politics.  He currently resides in Seattle, Washington.

Kim Bennett – President and CEO, Visit Vancouver USA

Kim Bennett is the President & CEO of Visit Vancouver USA. Bennett has more than two decades of experience in developing and managing economic development agencies, including the establishment of the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office. Bennett is the current Board President of DMA West (Destination Marketing Associations of the West) and serves by gubernatorial appointment on the Washington Film Commission, representing destination marketing organizations throughout the state. She also serves as a Board member on the Washington Tourism Alliance and the Washington State Destination Marketing Organization since 1999. Bennett previously served on the Washington State Tourism Commission under Governor Christine Gregoire.

 

 

Mark Berejka – REI, Director, Government & Community Affairs

Marc Berejka has served as REI’s government affairs director since 2011 and its director of community affairs since early 2013. REI is a national outdoor retail cooperative with over 16 million members and annual sales exceeding $2.5 billion. The co-op’s mission is to “inspire, educate and outfit people for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” In the policy realm, Mr. Berejka guides the co-op’s engagement in federal, state and local issues. This includes efforts to assure REI’s current and future members can continue to enjoy outdoor recreation – whether that be recreating close to home or at the nation’s many iconic destinations. It also includes advocacy on matters that affect retailers, such as main-street business regulation, Internet sales and international trade. Mr. Berejka also oversees the co-op’s community grants program. Most recently, the program distributed more than $9 million to over 300 local, regional and national organizations that help sustain and promote the country’s inspiring places to recreate.  Before joining REI, Mr. Berejka served as technology policy advisor to then-Secretary Gary Locke at the US Department of Commerce. Prior to that, he worked for 12 years in various public policy roles at Microsoft, both in Washington D.C. and in Washington State.  He spent the first part of his career as a telecommunications attorney.  He holds a J.D. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Princeton University.

Kevin Clark – CEO & President of Argosy Cruises

 Kevin Clark has served on the Washington Tourism Alliance board since 2011 representing the State’s Attractions industry.  Kevin and his wife Cary own and operate Argosy Cruises, which operates a fleet of vessels providing daily tours of Elliott Bay and surrounding Lakes, private charters, ferry service and community special events.   Since 2009 their company has operated on behalf of the Washington State Parks Commission ferry service to Blake Island State Park and the island’s dining and cultural center, Tillicum Village. Kevin’s focus has been the promotion of a statewide tourism nationally and internationally as an effective tool to for economic growth. He has been an active member of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Visit Seattle, Puget Sound Economic Development Council and various industry/civic groups.

John Cooper – President & CEO, Visit Yakima Valley

John Cooper graduated from the University of Oregon and is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organization Management at U.C.L.A.  He has been with the Yakima Valley Tourism since June 2007.  Prior to that, he was CEO of Bellingham/Whatcom County Tourism. Past professional jobs include being Executive Director of the Southern Oregon Visitors Association and the Corvallis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Cooper has served on a number of industry and community boards including the Yakima Rotary and Downtown Association of Yakima boards plus is a past-president of the Western Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus.  In recognition of his work, over the years John was named Executive of the Year by the Washington Society of Association Executives, Tourism Professional of the Year by the Washington State Tourism office and Tourism Concierge by the WA Wine Commission. Outside work John loves to travel, hiking the trails of the Cascades and is an artist for chalk art festivals in the region.

Andy Day – Executive Director, Long Beach Peninsula Visitor’s Bureau

Andi Day is the Executive Director of Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau serving Pacific County in the very southwest corner of Washington State. Andi’s extensive and diverse experience in small business, nonprofit management and marketing have been a great fit for the Long Beach Peninsula area.  She has implemented new marketing technology, and together with the board of directors, promotes an overall strategy based on sustainable tourism, maximizing positive results from limited resources. She brings this same approach into regional and state tourism marketing through her involvement and service on the board of Washington State Destination Marketing Organizations and Washington Tourism Alliance.

Dan Moore – Founder, Pandion Consulting

Dan Moore has served on the Washington Tourism Alliance board since 2011 representing Adventure Travel and Outdoor Recreation. He applied to join the board because he firsthand experienced the benefit of statewide tourism marketing while COO of regional adventure tour company Evergreen Escapes. The elimination of Washington State Tourism inspired Dan to get involved. In 2014 Dan opened Pandion Consulting & Facilitation, a travel industry consultancy. Pandion’s mission is to raise the standards, quality, and sustainability of the travel industry. Pandion specializes in rural tourism development and helping communities tap into adventure and experiential tourism markets – growing tourism sectors. Dan is a member of the faculty for Adventure EDU, the education and consulting arm of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. He also teaches Ecotourism, Adventure Travel, and Guide Training at Peninsula College in Washington State. He is a founding chair of the Governing Board of the International Adventure Travel Guide Qualifications and Performance Standard.

Ron Peck – Director of Tourism, Port of Seattle

A Washingtonian, Ron’s career started with Alaska Airlines.  From 1977 until 1996 he served in a variety of sales and marketing positions.  From 1996 until 2001 he was Director of marketing and sales for Princess Tours.  After a short stint at Alyeska Ski Resort, in 2002 he became President of the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA).  For 10.5 years he successfully led the organization through periods of challenge, recovery and growth.  He oversaw a marketing budget that reached $16 million.  While at ATIA he served on the US Travel Association Board of Directors, was tourism co-chair for the Taiwan Alaska Trade Investment Corporation Council, served on the Alaska Medallion Air Safety Foundation and was a member of the National Parks Conservation Association, Alaska. In 2013 he accepted the Executive Director position for Visit Walla Walla. In 2016 Ron took on the position of Director of Tourism Development for the Port of Seattle.

Christina Pivarnik – Marketing Director, City of Port Townsend

Christina Pivarnik has owned her marketing and communications business for 28 years, working with over 50 firms on the local, regional, national and international level, specializing in tourism. She has been the contracted Director of Marketing for the City of Port Townsend for 10 years and on contract with the Port of Seattle’s International Tourism Development since 2014. She has served on the board of the Washington Tourism Alliance, since July 2011. Pivarnik is a member of the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission and a founding board member of the Olympic Culinary Loop, serving as president in 2016 and 2017. She was on the board for EDC Team Jefferson for 12 years and is a past president for the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce (now the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce). She was the co-owner of Christina James Winery with her husband for 9 years and also works as a freelance travel writer.

Shaun Tucker – General Manager, Alderbrook Resort

Shaun always thought he would have a career as a mathematics educator, but his real passion pointed him in the direction of the hospitality industry. Born in Bellingham, Washington and raised in a small town just a few miles north, Shaun began his career in the restaurant business at the early age of 14.  After graduating high school, he attended the University of Washington and then transferred to Arizona State University.  While attending college, he worked at the critically acclaimed Royal Palms Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, where he fell in love with destination properties. Since 1999, Shaun has worked for several properties around the northwest including, the Semiahmoo Resort, Willows Lodge, Bellevue Club, Cave B Inn and the Alderbrook Lodge. In June 2008, he returned to Willows Lodge as General Manager.  After almost 4 years, Shaun rejoined Alderbrook Resort & Spa as the General Manager. New challenges are the fuel that keeps him going.  Taking care of people and seeing the positive reactions he gets from customers are deeply gratifying to Shaun. Tucker, his wife and 2 kids reside in Olympia, WA.

Steve Warner – President & CEO, Washington Wine Commission

Steve Warner was appointed as President & CEO of the Washington State Wine Commission in February 2012. Steve came to the Commission from Merck & Co., Inc., where he was the Managing Director based in Bucharest, Romania. Prior to that, he held General Manager and marketing positions in global and regional marketing in the Asia Pacific region and led teams while living in Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; and several domestic markets. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in biology, Steve holds a Master of Business Administration degree in international business and finance from Rutgers University. Born and raised in eastern Washington State, Steve graduated from West Seattle High School before serving in the United States military’s Special Operations Command, first as a Sergeant in Pararescue and then as a Lieutenant Commander in U.S. Navy Special Operations.

Ron Williams – Executive Director, Visit Walla Walla

Ron Williams is an enthusiastic newcomer to the world of destination marketing, with just two years under his belt at Visit Walla Walla. But with a strong background in project management, hospitality management and nonprofit arts management, he is well-versed in the skills required for the job. With a degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles, Ron worked in theater and film management for many years, in Los Angeles, Orlando (Disney), New York, and eventually Rome, Italy.  As an independent contractor, he made a living along the way working in restaurants, resorts, Wall Street firms, editing rooms, dubbing studios and as on camera talent in film and television. On the set of a film shooting in Greece, he met his life partner, Raffaele Exiana. They both lived and worked in Rome, and eventually moved back to the states, settling in Seattle. There they ran an architectural design and construction firm for a decade.  Sunshine, wine and real estate development brought them to Walla Walla, where Ron transitioned to managing a large winery (Waterbrook), then a resort in the Columbia Gorge, then a nonprofit theater company. With a nudge from the outgoing director of Visit Walla Walla, Ron applied for the job, and was chosen to lead the DMO. He finds destination marketing an exciting and dynamic business, where every day presents new challenges and opportunities. He is happy to be managing a destination at the center of the universe: Walla Walla, WA!

 

WTA Staff

Mike Moe – Managing Director

Mike is a Washingtonian through-and-through. Born on the east side of the state in Spokane, he grew up on Tiger Mountain, 30 minutes outside of Seattle. After high school, Mike fell in love with the tourism industry, working on steamboat cruises up and down the Mississippi River. His tourism career has taken him around the world. Among his many jobs, he was a bartender, photographer, maitre’ d and overland tour guide. In 2012, Mike joined the WTA team as the Business Development Manager.  Since 2016, he overseen the day-to-day operations of the WTA. He lives in Seattle with his wife Shannon, son Kieran, and dog Pacha.

WTA Newsletter – August 17th, 2018

WTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS CO-CHAIR UPDATE

Dave Blandford and Shiloh Burgess  

This is an exciting time for the tourism industry in Washington State. In July, Governor Inslee announced the selection of the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA). This group of tourism industry leaders will meet for the first time in late August and we’re hopeful that in the very near future will name the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) as the contracted statewide tourism marketing organization.

In the meantime, the WTA’s working board and staff have already rolled up their sleeves, putting together plans to participate in international travel/trade shows, build statewide itineraries, develop great co-op opportunities for our partners and promote the state to travel media. We’ll also participate in several events around Washington this fall, including:

October 16th: The WTA will be sponsoring the NW Event Show at the Washington State Convention Center. This annual event will be produced by WTA member Butler Events and is a great opportunity for vendors to interact with meeting planners from all over the country. We’ll have a booth during the show, so stop by and say hi! For more info, click here.

October 15th-17th: The Washington Chamber of Commerce Executives will be holding their annual conference in Pullman. The WTA has been invited to present on the future of our organization.

November 1st and 2nd: The WTA will be a guest speaker at the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Summit taking place at the Vern Burton Center in Port Angeles. This annual event always has fantastic workshops and provides excellent networking opportunities. Stay tuned for more information soon!

November 6th: The Washington Bed and Breakfast Guild will be holding their annual meeting and our Managing Director, Mike Moe will give a presentation on the progress made by the WTA and how businesses can benefit from participating in our programs.

November 12th: WTA board members will participate in a panel discussion on the future of Washington State’s tourism marketing and destination development at the Washington Hospitality Convention.

If you have an upcoming event you would like WTA to consider presenting at, or participating, please let us know. We value the opportunity to connect with the members and communities we serve.

We can’t thank our stakeholders enough for supporting the WTA for the last seven years. We look forward to working with you to build a successful state tourism marketing program in the coming months.

WTA SEEKING BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPLICANTS

Mike Moe, Managing Director

The Washington Tourism Alliance is looking for applicants to fill vacancies on the WTA Board of Directors. There are two regional positions open:

  • Northwest Washington which includes Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan and Island, counties
  • South Puget Sound which includes Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston Counties

There are also vacancies in the Tribes and Arts and Culture sectors, as well as at-large positions.

Our Board members are asked to play an active role in the organization’s strategic planning and goal-setting.  Because of this, we ask you to consider the following criteria when making your decision.

Board member time investment:

8-12 Board meetings per year (quarterly in person, the others by phone)
Several Committee meetings per year
Annual 2-day retreat (November)
Annual Summit Meeting

WTA member events as planned

Board member financial investment:

Travel to meetings [held at various locations in Washington State]

Board retreat registration [room, travel + some meals]

If you are interested, please complete and email me an application (download here), your resume, and a cover letter. The deadline to apply is September 7th.

MARKETING AUTHORITY UPDATE

The Washington Tourism Marketing Authority will meet for the first time on August 30th in the Sea-Tac area. This first meeting will be largely organizational. The Marketing Authority will NOT be charged with the actual marketing of the state, but it will be an oversight board that will select the contractor according to the qualifications in the legislation. They will determine what can be used in the match funding and will gauge the return on the state’s investment in tourism marketing.

THE WTA BOARD WELCOMES JULIE EISENHAUER

Diana Thibado, Director of Operations

The WTA is excited to welcome Julie Eisenhauer to the Board of Directors. Julie is a shareholder in Clark Nuber’s audit practice and has personally worked with many clients in the hospitality industry, making her a perfect fit for the WTA board. Additionally, she will bring years of experience in public accounting to her role as Treasurer on the Executive Committee. “I am proud to be a member of the Washington Tourism Alliance board,” Julie said, “and look forward to playing an active role in supporting the organization’s mission.” Clark Nuber is a longstanding member of the WTA and we look forward to strengthening the partnership with the addition of Julie to the board!

CREATE YOUR FALL EXPERIENCEWA BANNER AD NOW

Mike Moe, Managing Director 

With Fall just around the corner, make room in the budget for the banner ad program on ExperienceWA.com.  Our traffic is growing, creating more banner ad inventory so we are rewarding our advertisers with FREE impressions. Each ad impression purchased will receive a FREE additional run-of-site impression to drive even more business your way.

WTA members can buy as few as 20,000 impressions for $604 ($683 for non-members) and receive 20,000 more impressions for FREE!

Clicks from ExperienceWA are more likely to convert to sales because most people who use ExperienceWA are actively planning a trip in Washington. Utilize Washington’s official destination website to connect with travelers as they research their vacation! Click here to view our full Media Kit. Please let me know if you’re interested.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

BUTLER EVENTS INVITES YOU TO JOIN THEM AT NORTHWEST EVENT SHOW

A KEY AGENCY FOR OUTDOOR RECREATION, WDFW, FACES $30 MILLION SHORTFALL

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.

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.

JULY 2018 NEWSLETTER

GOVERNOR INSLEE ANNOUNCES MARKETING AUTHORITY MEMBERS  

Mike Moe, Managing Director   

On July 11th, Governor Jay Inslee announced official appointments for the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (Marketing Authority), the state tourism marketing oversight body created by E4SSB 5251, which was passed unanimously by the legislature this spring. Industry representatives include:

Marsha Massey – Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, Clallam County
Anthony Anton – Washington Hospitality Association, Thurston County
Cindy Verge – Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Skagit County
Robert Lerch – Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Island County
Jody Kayler – Spokane Sports Commission, Spokane County
VJ Patel – Hotelier, Benton County
Judy Tuohy – Schack Arts Center, Snohomish County
Tiffany Turner – Hotelier, Pacific County
Rob Sendak – Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, King County

The law stipulates the selection of nine representatives with expertise in the tourism industry by the governor to serve on the Marketing Authority board. Based on recommendations from the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House, representatives must reflect diversity in geography, size of business, gender, and ethnicity. No county may have more than two appointments and no city may have more than one appointment.

Four legislators will join the nine tourism industry representatives on the Marketing Authority, one from each caucus in each house:
Rep. Bill Jenkin (R) – 16th District
Rep. Cindy Ryu (D) – 32nd District
Sen. Maureen Walsh (R) – 16th District
Sen. Dean Takko (D) – 19th District

More than 50 tourism professionals applied for the Marketing Authority board positions. We appreciate their willingness to serve, as well as their significant contributions toward making a positive impact on the tourism industry.

While the implementation of the tourism marketing program will be executed by a private, non-profit organization, the Marketing Authority will have three primary tasks:

  1. To enter into a multi-year contract with a statewide nonprofit organization in existence on the effective date of the law whose sole purpose is marketing Washington State to tourists.
  2. To determine what qualifies as a match within the funding structure. The law requires that the tourism industry match two dollars for every dollar provided by the state.
  3. To contract for the evaluation of the impact of the statewide tourism marketing program.
This summer, the Marketing Authority board will begin its work on the first two of their primary tasks. Once the contractor is selected and the match is defined, work can finally begin on promoting Washington State as a tourism destination. The Washington Tourism Alliance congratulates these appointees and looks forward to advancing a statewide tourism marketing program.

WTA UPDATE

Mike Moe, Managing Director

Since Governor Inslee signed the Tourism Marketing legislation, the WTA has been preparing to hit the ground running when the Marketing Authority selects the non-profit organization to implement the statewide tourism marketing plan. In anticipation of being selected as the contractor, the WTA Board of Directors selected David Blandford and Shiloh Schauer to head the organization as Co-Chairs.

Shiloh Schauer is the Executive Director of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and she has served on the WTA board since 2014. A former Legislative Aide to Senator Linda Evans Parlette, she served as the Legislative Chair for the WTA and was instrumental in guiding our organization through the legislative process to pass the Tourism Marketing Bill.

David Blandford is the Senior Vice-President of Public Affairs for Visit Seattle and has served on the WTA Board since 2013. David has two decades of experience in global, national, and regional markets. Over the past two years, David served as the Communications Chair for the WTA and played a key role in coordinating our communication strategy during our efforts to pass the Tourism Marketing legislation.

The WTA would like to thank Andy Olsen for his past year of service as the WTA Board Chair. Under his leadership, our organization improved efficiency and took the necessary steps to finally pass the legislation we had been working on for so long. Andy will continue to be a vital member of our Board and serve as Past-President on our Executive Committee.

While the WTA has been actively marketing Washington to tourists since 2011 with limited resources, we are excited about the opportunity the new legislation presents for our state. We are confident in David and Shiloh’s leadership over the next two years . Together, they represent both eastern and western Washington, big city and small, and they are eager to launch our new program. The WTA has a monumental task before us and we will rely on the expertise, initiative, and resourcefulness of our industry partners like never before.

WTA THANKS DEPARTING BOARD MEMBERS
Diana Thibado, Director of Operations

So much of the WTA’s success can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of the Board of Directors. As we begin the next chapter, the WTA would like to sincerely thank those board members who have helped us get to this point and are now moving on.

Anthony Anton joined the WTA board in 2013 and in his role as the President & CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association, provided critical support and wisdom during the legislative process. He was recently appointed to the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority and we appreciate his continued commitment to Washington tourism.

John Bookwalter is the President of Bookwalter Winery. He joined the board in 2011 and served as Treasurer, donating many extra hours to ensure that the WTA continued to operate smoothly through the years. We raise a glass to John and wish him nothing but the best in the future.

Bennish Brown is leaving his post as President & CEO of Travel Tacoma to become the President & CEO at Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau. Bennish has been a smart and thoughtful voice on the board since joining in 2014 and Washington’s loss is truly Georgia’s gain.

Drew Schmidt is the owner of San Juan Cruises in Bellingham and has served as a WTA board member since 2013. Drew was a consistent contributor on the board and brought valuable knowledge and experience as the Northwest Regional Representative.

Matt Van Der Peet is the General Manager of the Westin Bellevue and joined the WTA board in 2014. We often relied on his years of experience in the hospitality industry and will miss his voice on the board going forward.

The WTA thanks you all for your years of service!

DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE EXPERIENCEWA IN YOUR FALL ADVERTISING BUDGET 

2018 has been an outstanding year so far for ExperienceWA.com . The official tourism website for Washington State has proven to be the best place to connect with people who are planning their trip to our state.  As you begin to plan for the Fall, we would like to share a couple of opportunities still available.

Our REWARDS Program for our banner ad platform is still going strong. Our advertisers are paying an average of less than $2.00 per click. That is WAY below industry standard. The fact that ExperienceWA website visitors are there specifically to learn about travelling in Washington State only make these clicks more valuable.

Our monthly eNewsletter program has also been big in 2018. As you know, there are limited spaces available to advertise in our eNewsletter and there are only a few spaces left in the Fall newsletters! If you want advertising space in the Fall, let us know as soon as possible.

There are so many ways to reach the qualified audience of ExperienceWA.com. To learn more, please contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or call him at 425-444-0589. Or, click to view the full ExperienceWA Media Kit.

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 Thibado at diana@watourismalliance.com.

 

WTA THANKS MARCH, APRIL, MAY AND JUNE MEMBERS

NEW MEMBERS
Heritage Distilling

RENEWING MEMBERS

360 Hotel Group7 Cedars Casino & Resort PropertiesAlderbrook Resort & SpaArctic Club SeattleArgosy CruisesChrysalis Inn & SpaCity of Port TownsendCoast Hotels & ResortsCopacino & FujikadoCourtyard by MarriottCourtyard Downtown/Pioneer SquareCourtyard KirklandCrowne Plaza HotelDoubletree – SeatacExpedia, Inc.Fran’s ChocolatesLake Chelan Chamber of CommerceLong Beach Peninsula, Lynnwood PFDMcMenamins Olympic ClubMt. Baker Foothills Chamber of CommercePort of Friday HarborResidence Inn – RedmondSan Juan Islands Visitor BureauSeattle Bed and Breakfast AssociationSeattle Times CompanySheraton Bellevue HotelSheraton Seattle HotelSkamania County Chamber of CommerceSnohomish County Tourism BureauUnion Gap TourismVertigo MarketingVisit Bellevue WAVisit Lewis Clark ValleyWA State Parks and RecWashington Indian Gaming AssociationWashington State FairWestern Prince Whale & Wildlife ToursWillows LodgeWoodinville Chamber of Commerce


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.

2017 Dean Runyan Preliminary Report Overview

Washington State Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume, 2000-2017

Preliminary Report by Dean Runyan Associates, April 2018

Overview

The Washington State economy continued to see robust growth in 2017, 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. However, the pace of overall tourism growth has slowed.

Overall visitation in Washington increased 3.6 percent, compared to 3.8 percent growth the previous year, to 40.1 overnight person trips, as in-state residents help to sustain visits.

Travel spending increased 7.0 percent in $21.4 billion in current dollars, 5.8 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars in 2017, buoyed by robust hotel occupancies (+3.0 percent) and motor fuel prices (+15 percent), in-state consumer confidence and other factors. Strong hotel occupancies in the state’s urban centers were driving factors in this growth, as they maintain the majority of the state’s accommodations inventory (i.e. King County comprises 53 percent). Seattle saw record hotel occupancy of 84.2 percent in 2017.

Visitor-generated Tax Receipts

State and local visitor-generated tax receipts increased 4.8 percent to $1.8 billion in 2017.

Travel generated employment

Jobs supported by tourism increased 2.8 percent to 177,000 in 2017.

 International Tourism

While Sea-Tac International Airport reported record passenger volumes and 5.4 percent growth in international passengers in 2017, spending by foreign visitors in Washington decreased slightly (2 percent) due the strength of the U.S. dollar. Overseas inbound tourism to the U.S. has seen percentage declines since 2015 and the nation is beginning to see market share decline due to the strong U.S. dollar, national political rhetoric and questions about immigration and travel policy changes.

 Business and Competitive Landscape in 2018

Competing western states continue to invest significantly in tourism as a driver of jobs, economic impact and relief for communities that incur natural disasters and other crises.

 

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.