Executive Director Update
Working on behalf of our members and industry stakeholders, the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) has been active in the past several months, focused on our mission to advocate, promote, develop and sustain the economic well-being of the Washington tourism industry. Here is a recap, with links to full articles and more detailed information.
March Tourism Summit
Our third statewide Tourism Summit was held in Olympia on March 13th, drawing more than 200 tourism professionals from around the state to learn about the state of our industry, our most recent statewide visitor impact numbers and the WTA’s legislative agenda for short and long-term tourism funding. Governor Jay Inslee gave an inspiring welcome address and spoke about the importance of the tourism industry on jobs and the economy in Washington State. He indicated his commitment to working with the WTA “to create a vigorous, robust, comprehensive and fairly financed tourism effort in the State of Washington.” The morning Summit was followed by an afternoon of legislative advocacy, with our WTA delegation at the Capitol for meetings with their representatives and senators to discuss the importance the tourism industry in Washington State and the positive impact that it has on our economy.
Click here to learn more and for a link to an electronic version of the presentation that we made at the Summit.
Since the State legislative session began, the WTA’s focus has been two-fold. First, we continue our efforts to acquire State support for bridge-funding which will allow us to fund the basics of a statewide tourism program for the next two years. At the same time we are also working with our members to establish a long-term, industry- led funding model for the future which we can propose to the legislature next year, so that we can market Washington state in a competitive manner. Currently Washington is the only state in the nation without state support for tourism marketing; our goal is to address this issue within the next two years by establishing stable long-term funding to support our marketing efforts.
The WTA has been actively working in Olympia, meeting with legislators and their staff to communicate our message and advocate for tourism funding this session. Additionally WTA representatives made presentations to both the Senate Trade & Economic Development Committee and House Appropriations Committee, where we presented our plans and requested support for our bridge-funding request.
Many WTA members responded to our legislative alerts which asked you to communicate with your legislators about the need for bridge-funding in this year’s State budget. Thank You! We were pleased that the House budget included $1,000,000 for efforts to support tourism. This is much better than the $200,000 appropriated by the Senate. Now the House, Senate and Governor’s office will negotiate a final budget. The last day of the regularly scheduled legislative session is April 28. If no budget is agreed to by then the Governor will call a special session. We will continue to work with our legislators in support of the House budget position on funding tourism at the $1,000,000 level. We need the continued support of our WTA members and partners to continue the call for funding. View our suggested message. Since it appears likely that the legislature will, in fact, go into a special session, look for continued legislative alerts from the WTA with our call to action in support of our bridge-funding request.
WTA in the NEWS
On April 5th King 5 did a story about the WTA efforts to address statewide tourism marketing for Washington. Our message about the need for funding and our competition with neighboring states which have tourism marketing budgets significantly higher than ours was covered in an interview with WTA Board Chairman Kevin Clark and WTA Executive Director Louise Stanton-Masten. Click here for a link to the story and video of the King 5 news feature.
WTA Products to Serve Washington State Tourism
The WTA is proud of three very successful products that we offer to serve our members and the tourism industry. In the past few months we released the 2013 Official Washington State Visitors Guide, launched our newly updated website, www.experiencewa.com, and introduced our mobile app, VisitWA. In this section, we highlight each of these WTA tourism offerings.
2013 Edition of the Official WASHINGTON STATE VISITORS’ GUIDE RELEASED in March
The 2013 Washington State Visitors’ Guide was released in March and being is being widely distributed. The guide is produced through a strategic partnership with the WTA, the Washington Lodging Association (WLA) and SagaCity Media Inc. The Guide features regional maps, insider travel trips, itinerary suggestions and contact information for an array of standout local businesses and attractions. This year’s guide features three unique covers to underscore the beauty and breadth of Washington State visitor experiences.
The 2013 edition marks the 14th annual publication of the guide. This year, with increased demand, circulation has been increased to 375,000 copies, with readership of nearly one million. The Guide will be featured at visitor centers in Washington, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Vancouver, B.C., and will also be available at newsstands and checkout counters at Barnes & Noble, QFC and Whole Foods. Some 65,000 copies have been direct mailed to Seattle Met and Portland Monthly magazine subscribers.
Prospective travelers can read the Guide and order copies online at www.experiencewa.com and www.StayinWashington.com, the WLA’s web site. Travelers can also access versions of the guide that are optimized for iPads, android tablets and smart phones.
The new and improved travel consumer website, www.ExperienceWA.com launched just in time for the new year. The site features sections that include Things to See and Do, Events, Regions and Cities, Guides and Maps, and Stay in Washington, which is a link to the Washington Lodging Association website of accommodations throughout the state. ExperienceWA.com has blossomed for spring into a fully responsive website, which means viewing is optimized on any device – desktop, tablet and mobile – with flexible layout, sizing and feature detection. With the move to responsive design we expect the mobile & tablet performance and bounce rate to significantly improve. Coming up for the website in the near future are further enhancements which will include the use of Get Smart Content, which allows ExperienceWA to gather information about the user such as geography, search keyword and referring website, and instantly deliver relevant content based on that information. Additional website enhancements will also be on-going and implemented later this spring.
Mobile App – VisitWA
The WTA, in partnership with Yodio Tours, launched VisitWA, a mobile app targeting the growing number of visitors carrying smart phones on their travels. The mobile app provides information to visitors using the phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) to deliver nearby sights, attractions and businesses on easy to use digital maps in every community across our state. The app was designed to offer tourism promoters the opportunity to be “local experts” and to share their recommendations about places to visit, creating local memorable sightseeing experiences.
The mobile app contains sections that feature things to see and do throughout the state that are both free and paid attractions, audio tours, and links to places to stay and dine. The current focus in development of the mobile app is to gather content for the “Free Things to See and Do” section. To share a sight or attraction on the app – the “must see and do” recommendations to our visitors – tourism promoters can submit a recommendation on the site, www.VisitWA.biz. Further development of the mobile app will continue into the summer as additional content and features are added.
Washington Tourism Alliance Welcomes New Directors
The Washington Tourism Alliance is pleased to announce the addition of two new members to the WTA Board of Directors. Leslie Johnson and Drew Schmidt were welcomed to the Board in March, 2013. We congratulate them and thank them for their commitment to the organization.
Leslie Johnson (Puyallup Tribe) is the Director of the Squaxin Island Tribe Tourism Department, with responsibility for promoting Tribal Tourism for the Squaxin Island Tribe as well as for NorthWest Tribal Tourism and the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.
Active in her community and with the Squaxin Island Tribe Tourism Department, Leslie participates in several conferences and trade shows each year, partners with a wide variety of tourism businesses and sponsors tourism related events. Leslie recently served as a member of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau. In addition to local and regional work, Leslie also serves on the National Scenic Byway Foundation Board of Directors. Thanks to Leslie’s support, the Squaxin Island Tribe Tourism Department has been a WTA member since the organization’s founding in 2011 and a sponsor of our annual tourism summit for the past two years.
Drew Schmidt is the Owner and Operator of Pacific Cruises Northwest and San Juan Cruises in Bellingham, a company that has been offering cruises since 1987.
Current cruises include whale watching adventure cruises with a salmon lunch and shore stop in Friday Harbor, Chuckanut Bay cracked crab dinner cruises, beer and wine tasting cruises featuring Washington craft breweries and wineries, and San Juan Island group tours. Drew is a member of the Bellingham Tourism Commission, the Whatcom County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, and is Treasurer of the Bellingham / Whatcom Tourism Bureau and Pacific Whale Watching Association.
Welcome Leslie and Drew to the WTA Board!
Washington Tourism Alliance Welcomes New Members
New members January – March include:
Adventura Aerial Adventure Park, Bank of America, Campbell’s Resort, City of Kenmore, City of Spokane Valley, Elwha Dam RV Park, Fran’s Chocolates, Hilton Garden Inn Yakima, Hyatt House Redmond, The Lucky Dog Casino, Marriott Hotels Regional Council, Moss Adams, The Outlet Collection, Pacific Place, Pacific Science Center, Quinault Beach Resort & Casino, River Park Square, San Juan Cruises, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Marriott Waterfront, Skokomish Park at Lake Cushman, Tom Douglas Restaurants, University of Washington, The Waterfront at Potlatch
Renewing members January – March include:
7 Cedars Casino & Resort Properties, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, Best Western Plus CottonTree Inn, Cascade Loop Scenic Highway, Certified Folder Display Service, Inc, Chateau Ste. Michelle, City of Edmonds, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Heathman Lodge, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Ilwaco Merchants Association, Jefferson County Tourism Coordinating Council, Macy’s, The Map Company, Port of Seattle, Pullman Chamber of Commerce, Residence Inn – Seattle Downtown/Lake Union, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Southside DMO, Ski Washington, Space Needle, Visit Spokane, The Inn at Gig Harbor, The Westin Bellevue, Trac Center, Tri-Cities CVB, Washington Bed and Breakfast Guild, Washington Indian Gaming Association, WSDMO
Monique Trudnowski of Adriatic Grill wins National Faces of Diversity American Dream Award
Monique Trudnowski, owner of Tacoma’s Adriatic Grill Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar, won the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) Faces of Diversity American Dream Award. Trudnowski received her honor April 17th at the NRA’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington D.C.
The NRA honors a restaurant operator each year with the Faces of Diversity American Dream Award, which recognizes diverse members of the industry who have, through hard work and perseverance, achieved the American Dream.
She has taken an active role in the state’s newly formed Washington Tourism Alliance and has been integral to the Washington Restaurant Association’s political advocacy efforts. See the full story on the Washington Restaurant Association’s page.