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.

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.

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.

APRIL NEWSLETTER

WTA UPDATE

Mike Moe, Associate Director

Spring is here which means warmer weather, longer days and great opportunities to promote tourism throughout Washington state. It also means the state legislature is going to be putting in longer days as well.
With only a few days left in the regular 2017 session, legislators have a lot of work to finalize the 2017-19 state budget. As you will read below, there is good news for the WTA supported statewide tourism marketing proposal but we have a long way to go before we see the return of the state’s support for tourism marketing.

 

Our Tourism Works for Washington campaign is going strong and you can find all the up-to-date information on our Tourism Works page. You’ll also find talking points and a link to find your legislators’ contact information. If you haven’t already, please add your name to the Statement of Support. Please consider sharing this web page with your network! Every name counts!

If you have any questions about the legislation or if you would like to schedule a phone call or meeting to talk about how you can help, please contact Mike Moe.

STATEWIDE TOURISM MARKETING PROGRAM STILL ALIVE IN OLYMPIA

Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick

The end of the 2017 regular legislative session is April 23 but lawmakers will most likely need extra time this year to complete work on the state budget. Both the House and Senate have passed very different versions of the budget but the good news is both include funding for tourism marketing.
The Senate budget specifically mentions the WTA supported Tourism Marketing legislation SSB5251 and appropriates $500,000 for planning in fiscal year 2018. While this is not the full amount of funding we requested, it keeps the underlying legislation alive because it is considered “necessary to implement the budget” and provides funding that can be the subject of budget negotiations.
The House budget provides funding for a public-private match program through the Washington Department of Commerce. The appropriation is for $2.3 million to invest in several industry sectors including tourism. While this is not the full funding the WTA has asked for, it is important that tourism is explicitly listed as a priority. It gives House budget negotiators flexibility in their discussions with their Senate counterparts.

If the legislature does not finish its work this month, there are several options for legislators and the governor to call a special session. At this point, no one knows how or when a special session would be held but it could be well into June before the final budget is passed. Therefore, it is extremely important that tourism advocates continue to contact legislators to encourage support for tourism funding and specifically ask their budget leaders to ensure a fully funded statewide tourism marketing program.

STAY ENGAGED! CONTINUE CONTACTS WITH LEGISLATORS
Barbara Smith, WTA Grassroots Manager
The active WTA grassroots network is more than 700 strong and growing every day! Your contacts have had a direct impact and we must continue to keep the “pedal to the metal” with outreach to legislators. The WTA team has prepared updated talking points and advocacy tools available on the Tourism Works website.

Here are a few ideas to keep the momentum going!

Say Thank You!
Reach out to legislators who have supported tourism in the state budget.  Let them know their support is appreciated and you want them to keep pushing for passage of the tourism bill (SHB1123/SSB5251) and funding in the final state budget. Ask them to tell their budget leaders to support full funding for a statewide tourism marketing program. Call or post in social media, or send an email to legislators reminding them of the importance of tourism to your community and thanking them for keeping tourism a top priority. You can find a list of legislators and their contact information here.
Media
Use social media to “tag” legislators with positive tourism messages.  Make sure you use the hashtag #tourismworksforwa and add visuals (photos and short videos).  Remember that old fashioned media is also important!  Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper – the WTA staff will happily help you with a draft.

 

Virtual Visits
Make arrangements with your legislator for a virtual meeting (phone call, Skype, Facebook Live).  Gather a few tourism supporters from your district for a group call where you can emphasize your support for tourism.  Some legislators may even have in-district meeting opportunities for constituents on the weekends.  Look for those opportunities to meet face-to-face is possible.

 

Consider another visit to Olympia
Late in the session, many legislators who are not involved in budget negotiations have more time to meet one-on-one in Olympia with visitors to the capitol.  Let the WTA staff know if you are considering a visit and we can help you with scheduling.
Tourism Week

 

National Tourism Week is May 7 – 13.  Include legislators in your planning for activities in your community.  Invite them to events and include positive messages about the value of tourism in your Tourism Week messaging.  Legislators may not be able to attend but they like to be asked and included.

 

If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to contact Barbara Smith  or Mike Moe.

OFFICIAL 2017 WASHINGTON STATE VISITORS’ GUIDE RELEASED
SagaCity Media

The Washington Tourism Alliance, the Washington Hospitality Association, and SagaCity Media are thrilled to announce the release of the official 2017 Washington State Visitors’ Guide. This year, visitors can dive into adrenaline-pumping adventures, embark on culinary road trips, discover outdoor escapes and urban locales, and find out just what makes our state so breathtaking and unique. Previous guides have been recognized for their engaging articles and eye-catching artwork, with the 2016 guide named a Maggie Award finalist for best visitor guide.
With distribution locations in eight western states and British Columbia-as well as across the country via mail by request, online, and on tablet and smartphone devices-this year’s edition introduces nearly one million readers to the splendors of the state. This year’s guide will also receive exclusive distribution to thousands of Seattle Met and Portland Monthly subscribers. Pick up a copy today or read it online.
FEATURE YOUR EVENTS ON EXPERIENCEWA.COM!
Mike Moe, Associate Director

 

In the past year, the ExperienceWA.com website has had close to 800,000 unique visitors and over 1.8 million pageviews. One of the most visited pages on the ExperienceWA website is our Events page. Visitors who are looking for events are also among the most qualified because they are ready to be inspired! While any tourism-related business in Washington State can list their event for free, purchasing a Featured Event Listing is one of the most inexpensive yet effective ways to utilize ExperienceWA.com.
Featured Event Listings only cost  $370 ($378 for non-members), most advertisers who have utilized this program have paid less than $1 a click! Featured Events also have the chance to be included in our award-winning monthly eNewsletter for no extra cost!
To learn more about Featured Listings and all the other opportunities available on ExperienceWA.com click here for our Media Kit. To purchase a Featured Listing, 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 at diana@watourismalliance.com.

 

WTA WELCOMES MARCH MEMBERS 

NEW MEMBERS:

 

RENEWING MEMBERS:

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.

FEBRUARY/MARCH NEWSLETTER

WTA UPDATE 

Mike Moe, Associate Director

The WTA legislation to create a statewide tourism marketing effort has momentum thanks to your support! However, there is still much work to be done and many ways you can help the cause. If you haven’t added your name yet to the Statement of Support, you can do so here. Please consider sharing this webpage with your network! Every name counts!

If you would like to reach out to your legislators, you can find all the up-to-date information on our Tourism Works page . You’ll also find talking points and a link to find your legislators’ contact information.

If you have any questions about the legislation or if you would like to schedule a phone call or meeting to talk about how you can help, please contact Mike Moe

STATEWIDE TOURISM MARKETING PROGRAM STILL ALIVE IN OLYMPIA

Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick

 

Legislation to create a statewide tourism marketing program is moving forward in Olympia.  Both SHB 1123 and SSB 5251 remain alive because they considered “necessary to implement the budget”. The legislation will remain alive basically until the end of the session.
There are still many ways the legislation could change and the funding sources are still being discussed. We are reviewing all the proposed changes to make sure it is consistent with the WTA’s guiding policies for a statewide marketing program.
It is very important that legislators hear from advocates to ensure the proposal is included in the state budget. We need WTA members and advocates to continue to reach out to their legislators in support of the bills.
Here are the important points to include in your message:
  • We need a statewide tourism marketing program to bring more visitors to our state and to promote Washington internationally.
  • Please make sure a statewide tourism marketing program is a part of the 2017-19 Washington State Budget and references SHB1123/SSB5251.
  • The proposal does not raise new taxes and the small financial investment by the state will be returned by more economic development, jobs and tax revenue.
  • Local lodging taxes cannot be used for a statewide marketing. The proceeds of local lodging taxes are often committed to paying bonds for buildings such as convention centers, stadiums, arenas, and performing arts centers
  • While visitors to the Greater Seattle area have continued to be strong, many of our smaller and rural communities have struggled to keep vital tourism dollars (and the resulting jobs and tax revenue) flowing to their businesses.
  • Tourism is Washington’s 4th largest industry and impacts more than hotels, restaurants and destinations.  It benefits retailers, outdoor recreation, state parks, ports and cities – and ultimately the taxpayers of Washington.  More than $1.8 billion in local and state tax revenues are generated directly from tourism.  It’s the largest employer of women and minorities and is responsible for more than 170,500 jobs.

Please continue to call and email Olympia!

ATTEND YOUR TOWN HALL MEETING IN MARCH, PUMP UP SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS! 

Barbara Smith, WTA Grassroots Manager

Many legislators will be returning home to their districts to meet in Town Hall Meetings the weekends of March 11/12 or March 18/19. Please check the WTA website for a list of scheduled Town Hall Meetings and plan to bring your friends and neighbors to the event in your community.

Your calls, emails and visits to Olympia have helped support for a statewide tourism marketing program but there is no limit to how many times you can contact your legislators.

This week we are asking all WTA advocates to “tag” legislators on social media with messages about the importance of tourism to your community.

It’s simple – here’s what you need to do.
From your Facebook account, (It can be your personal or business account) post a photo of a something that signifies tourism in your community (a local park, your convention center, etc.) with a message like this:
This is what tourism looks like in ______________.   Please support HB1123/SB5251 to help us bring more tourists to Washington state and provide more economic development, jobs and tax revenue – especially for rural and tourism dependent communities.   #tourismworksforwa
To tag legislators in the post use the “@” symbol before the legislator’s name it should post right to their account.  Here is an example:

Remember to like the WTA Facebook and WTA Twitter pages and to use the WTA hashtag #tourismworksforwa in all your social media posts.

WTA SEEKING BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPLICANTS

The Washington Tourism Alliance is looking for applicants to fill vacancies on the WTA Board of Directors. There are two regional positions open:
  • Southeast Washington which includes Whitman, Garfield, Columbia, and Asotin counties
  • North Central Washington which includes Kittitas, Chelan, Grant, and Okanogan counties

We also have vacancies in the following sectors: Education, Arts and Culture, and Resorts.

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 submit the application, your resume, and a cover letter to Mike Moe.

CONNECT WITH PEOPLE ACTIVELY PLANNING A TRIP IN WASHINGTON!

2016 was an 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 this new year, we would like to share some highlights from the past year.

Last year we continued our REWARDS Program for our banner ad platform and it has been extremely successful. 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 2016. As you know, there are limited spaces available spaces for 2017 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 had an article that had 28,000 page views and generated more than 20,000 clicks to their website in 2016.

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

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

THE COLUMBIAN SAYS “LET’S PAY TO BOOST TOURISM”

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES

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

WTA WELCOMES JANUARY AND MEMBERS