December 2015 Newsletter

 
Holiday
 
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE  
Louise Stanton-Masten  

The WTA is gearing up for the upcoming legislative session and our efforts to secure passage of our long-term funding legislation. (See accompanying article in this newsletter with details about the session.)

In November the WTA Board of Directors, staff and legislative council met in a strategic planning retreat, the focus of which was to assure that all of our advocacy elements are in place going into the session.

In addition to the legislative plan which the Board had previously adopted, a number of accompanying documents about the Statewide Tourism Marketing Act were reviewed and adopted. They provide details about the legislation, the process for its passage and implementation, the proposed fee structure and its impacts, and an overview of the marketing program. Each of these are available on the WTA website.

Over the past few months, we have continued to work with our grass roots teams for each legislative district, with businesses and organizations which would be subject to the assessment fees and with state legislators as we continue to build support for passage of the legislation. We will be relying on our members and stakeholders to join us in Olympia to tell your story about why the legislation is important to you and why you support it. Your voice during session will be critical to our success in having adequate funding to support our statewide tourism marketing program.

 
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE 
Becky Bogard  

2016 will bring a new session of the Washington State Legislature. In addition to outlining some of the personnel changes and their impact on consideration of tourism legislation, it is important to understand the basics of this coming legislative session and the status of the WTA proposal for long term funding.

The basics and the status of the WTA legislation. Under our state’s constitution, the “regular” legislative sessions in even numbered years like 2016 is supposed to run for a period of 60 days. This year the session begins on Monday, January 11 and is slated to end on Friday, March 11. Like other years, if the legislature does not finish its business the governor can call a special session. Most observers feel that is not likely to happen this year.

One way to view the 2016 session is that it an opportunity “clean up” unfinished business from 2015. While new legislation can be introduced, all legislation introduced in 2015 that did not become law is still alive. In fact, the status of legislation is similar to where it was at the end of the 2015 session.

Let me explain this by using the WTA tourism legislation as an example.   During the 2015 session, SHB 1938, the House version of the WTA proposal, was approved by the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee. It was referred to the House Finance Committee where it had a hearing but was never voted out of committee. What this means is that the House Finance Committee could act on SHB 1938 without additional hearings but as a practical matter, the Committee will probably have a hearing before taking any further action.

In the Senate, 2SSB 5916, the Senate version of the WTA legislation, was passed out of both the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is in the Senate Rules Committee where it could be scheduled for a floor vote.

The importance of all of this is that in a short session, things move quickly. The fewer steps (hearings, votes, etc.) a piece of legislation is subjected to makes it more likely that there will be some action on a proposal.

Personnel. After the legislature adjourned, there were several important personnel changes that took place. Some of them impact the committees considering the WTA legislative proposal. In the House, the chair of the House Finance Committee, Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D., Seattle) will move over to the Senate to fill the position of Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D., Seattle) who was elected to the King County Council in November. Rep. Kris Lytton (D., Anacortes) was appointed to chair the House Finance Committee. Rep. Lytton’s district includes San Juan, Whatcom and Skagit Counties, a very tourism oriented district. In addition, there will be a new member of the committee, Noel Frame, who will be appointed to fill the position vacated by Rep. Carlyle.

Perhaps the more dramatic change comes in the composition of the House of Representatives. As a result of a special election in November, the House now has 50 Democrats and 48 Republicans; this is a bare Democratic majority since it takes 50 votes to pass anything out of the House. What this most likely means is that most proposals considered by the entire House will have to be supported by both parties to get passed.

Going forward and the WTA. There are a few basic things that legislature will have to do during its two month session. There are some budget holes caused by increases in money needed to fight forest fires, the continued need for a school funding, and an increase in Medicaid caseloads. In order to have a constitutionally required balance budget, the legislature will have to deal with these issues. Other issues, including the WTA proposal, will be considered at the discretion of the legislative leadership.

WTA members, and in particular the board, have been working with legislators during the interim to help them understand the importance of enacting a tourism funding proposal now. We intend to continue this work in an effort to get some form of our proposal adopted.

On the WTA website, www.watourismalliance.com, you will find some concise and helpful information about the legislative proposal. Please look at this information and contact your legislators encouraging them to support enactment now of the proposal. It is important that you try to do this before January 11, when the session starts. WTA staff and lobbyists would appreciate any feedback from your legislators.
Because of the short session, WTA has decided to have its Tourism Summit after the session. However, that does not get you out of coming to Olympia! We want you to ask your local business organization, like your chamber, to support this proposal and talk about it with legislators when those organizations’ representatives visit Olympia. In fact, we would like you to join your local businesses when they visit Olympia. We will be happy to work with you to set up appointments with your legislators to discuss tourism. Please contact Becky Bogard (becky@bogardjohnson.com ) or Kathryn Hedrick (kathrynhedrick@hedrick.onmicrosoft.com) for assistance and any questions.

Thank you in advance for your assistance …and have a happy holiday season!

 

WTA THANKS JANE KILBURN FOR YEARS OF SERVICE 

This year the WTA says goodbye to a founding board member who was instrumental in the creation of the WTA. Jane Kilburn retired this month from both the Port of Seattle and the WTA board. As the Director of International Tourism Development for the Port, Jane worked tirelessly to promote the state, both domestically and internationally. When Washington State closed the tourism office in 2011 she was a key player in the establishment of the WTA and was one of five founding Board members.

“Not only is Jane the mother of the WTA, but she has been the guardian angel of statewide tourism,” said WTA Executive Director Louise Stanton-Masten.  “Jane has been at the forefront of statewide tourism efforts and an outspoken advocate of the importance of tourism marketing for Washington.”

Jane served as a Vice Chair of the WTA Executive Committee and has been a driving force behind our efforts to pass WTA long-term funding legislation, the proposed Statewide Tourism Marketing Act. She’s been an inspiration to many, with her passion for promoting our state to visitors always paramount.

As she transitions into retirement, we extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Jane for everything she has done for not only the WTA, but the entire Washington State tourism industry.

 

REPORT FROM 2015 ADVENTURE TRAVEL WORLD SUMMIT, PUERTO VARAS, CHILE
Dan Moore, Pandion Consulting & Facilitation,  WTA Board Member

The Adventure Travel Trade Association, an industry trade group headquartered in Washington State, held its annual Adventure Travel World Summit in Puerto Varas, Chile, October 5-9 2015. This is the organization’s 12th Summit, including the first two which were in Washington State, and was the 8th that I have attended. The sold out summit included over 700 delegates from 55 different countries. Delegates included outbound tour operators such as National Geographic Adventure and REI Adventures, inbound suppliers including Seattle’s own Evergreen Escapes, and some of the best-respected travel media such as Outside Magazine, Travel Weekly, and National Geographic.

Chile 1

The theme for this year’s Summit was “Viva la Revolución de la Aventura”. This theme relates to two aspects of the Adventure Travel industry. One, acknowledging the trend that Adventure Travel is one of the fastest growing sectors of the  travel industry (growing from $89 Billion in 2010 to $263 billion in 2013*; 4 and 10 travelers choosing adventure*). And two, the efforts made by this industry to address issues of social and environmental sustainability – big challenges for the travel industry.

Speakers included the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, celebrity chef Rodolfo Guzman, Canadian Ambassador Tim Martin, and numerous experts from across the travel industry. Sessions included diverse topics such as risk management, conservation travel, adventure travel product development, big data, and indigenous travel. I delivered a presentation on the recently released Adventure Travel Guide Qualification and Performance Standard. Created by 18 professionals from 15 different countries, this standard gives destinations and companies a resource to meet international standards for guides. In addition to the inspirational and educational programming, the Summit is well known for the world-class networking. There are formal sessions, such as the one-day Marketplace (similar to a tradeshow), and the innovative Media Connect, which gives participants a one-on-one opportunity with the top tier travel media in attendance. Plus the coffee breaks, meals, and afterhours were priceless opportunities to share ideas and swap business cards.

For the destination, the Summit is an enormous opportunity to show of the best they have to offer. Attendees got to experience Chile’s adventure offerings on a multi-day Pre-Summit Adventure in places like Patagonia, Easter Island or the Atacama Desert, and on a Day of Adventure activity in the volcanoes and lakes region surrounding Puerto Varas.

Chile 2

Next year the Adventure Travel World Summit will be in Alaska. It is exciting to have the Summit coming home to the United States after traveling the world for the last 10. This will be a great opportunity for Washington State for many reasons. One, many of the international flights, and even some domestic will fly through Seattle opening up the possibility to host familiarization trips and promotions. Two, many of the outbound operators and media will be those that already work with the Western US and will be good contacts for Washington businesses to make. Three, the proximity to Seattle means Washington State delegates will pay less, and travel less to have access to this summit. Who knows, the Summit might be in Australia or India in 2017! Washington State is a robust and diverse destination. It stands very solidly as an Adventure Travel destination due to our diversity of geography, quality outfitters, and solid travel infrastructure. Attending the Adventure Travel World Summit is a great way to ensure we are on the map globally and able to tap into this growing and lucrative segment of the travel industry.

Note: Last year the Summit sold out in June. It is likely to sell out quicker this year being in the United States. So don’t wait if you know you want to attend.

Links: More on the Adventure Travel World Summit 2015.

Video highlights of the Adventure Travel World Summit 2015 can be found here.

Adventure Travel Trade Association information.

*Outbound travelers from the Americas and Europe – 2013 Adventure Tourism Market Study – Adventure Travel Trade Association and George Washington University Study

 
MANHATTAN PROJECT NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Kris Watkins, President & CEO, Visit Tri-Cities, WTA Board Member

 The Manhattan Project National Historical Park was formally established on Nov. 10, 2015, during a ceremony in Washington D.C., where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz signed an agreement for the joint management of the new Park.

The Park will be located in all three of the primary Manhattan Project sites from World War II — Hanford, Wash., Los Alamos, N.M. and Oak Ridge, Tenn.– and will be managed as a partnership between the Department of Interior’s National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE will preserve and operate the Park’s historic facilities and provide enhanced access through tour programs, while the NPS will manage interpretation and visitor services. The B Reactor at the Hanford site promises to be a highlight of the new Park as the historic landmark welcomed more than 10,000 people from throughout the world in 2015 without the assistance of a marketing campaign.

Following the creation of the Park, DOE and NPS celebrated with local elected officials, community groups, and many passionate advocates who have helped save Hanford’s B Reactor and push for the creation of the Park. In recognition of NPS’s centennial initiative, “Every Kid in a Park,” eight area 4th grade classes were invited to be among the first to visit the Manhattan Project National Historical Park to tour B Reactor and witness the hanging of the official National Park Service arrowhead.

For more information regarding 2016 B Reactor tours, please visit http://manhattanprojectbreactor.hanford.gov/

 

UTILIZE THE EXPERIENCEWA.COM DEALS PAGE TO SHOWCASE YOUR SPECIAL OFFER ON EXPERIENCEWA! 

Mike Moe

The ExperienceWA website is the best place to reach people who are planning a trip in Washington State in 2016. Every year more travelers are using our website to find the best places to stay, the best places to eat and the best things to do in our beautiful state. Many of those travelers are looking for ways to get the most for their money as they plan their trip. Utilizing the ExperienceWA Deals page is a great way to connect with those travelers.

As the seasons change, the focus of your marketing message does too and the Deals page changes with you. Right now we are focusing on winter getaways, but if you purchase a 12 months of space on the deals page, you’ll have the opportunity to change your deal to fit every season. Or if you only want to focus on one particular season, we offer a 3 month package as well. This is one of ExperienceWA’s most inexpensive programs. At $450 for the 3 months or $1500 for 12 months, it will fit in almost any marketing budget. Right now the program is averaging less than $2 a click!

Please click here for the costs and details of these opportunities, as well as the other ways you can use ExperienceWA to reach people who are planning a trip to Washington State.

If you are interested in advertising on ExperienceWA, please email me at mike@watourismalliance.com or please call me at 425-444-0589.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS   

WESTPORT WINERY NAMED BEST WINERY BY KING 5

 

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 NOVEMBER & DECEMBER MEMBERS 

NEW MEMBERS:

Admark, Cheryl’s Northwest Tours, Homewood Suites – Richland

RENEWING MEMBERS:

Adrift Hotel, Bellevue Club, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, Best Western Hotels, Bookwalter Winery, City of Edmonds, City of Redmond, City of Sequim, Cowlitz County Tourism Bureau, DoubleTree by Hilton Spokane City Center, Explore Port Orchard, Hampton Inn Richland, Hampton Inn Spokane Airport, Hard Rock Cafe, Hilton Garden Inn – Spokane Airport, Holiday Inn – Downtown Everett, Holiday Inn Express & Conference Center, Ledgestone Hotel, Macy’s, Paine Field Attractions, Port of Edmonds, Port of Friday Harbor, Port of Ilwaco, Port of Seattle, Pullman Chamber of Commerce, Quality Inn Oakwood, Residence Inn Vancouver, Seattle Times Company, Seattle University, Shuttle Express, The Bellevue Square Collection, The Westin Bellevue, Tillicum Village, W Seattle Hotel, WA Department of Fish & Wildlife, Wenatchee Valley COC

 

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.

September 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE
Louise Stanton-Masten

Did you known that American workers leave 429 million days of paid time off unused each year?  And that since 2000 they are taking nearly a work week less of vacation each year?

According to the US Travel Association’s Project Time Off these figures represent a significant shift in the way American’s view and use their time off. The result is that American’s are missing out on the personal and professional benefits that time away from work offers. Click here to read the Project Time Off research report.

As the report states, “Vacation time creates strong bonds with family and friends, builds a productive workforce, and helps cultivate a fulfilled life.” The report recognizes time off as an employer benefit as well, boosting productivity and resulting in more creative and innovative thinking.

Here in Washington State we have an abundance of travel opportunities to make use of our time off. This summer I was fortunate to spend some of my time on the waters of the Puget Sound exploring secluded coves in the South Sound, and the thrill of fireworks in Poulsbo on July 3rd and Quartermaster harbor on July 4th. I wandered the shops in Gig Harbor and shopped the at the farmers market in Olympia. Blake Island presented hiking opportunities on the island and a wonderful salmon bake and show at Tillicum Village.

This fall is a great time to use your time off, exploring Washington state. I encourage you to become a tourist in your own back yard. There are fall colors to see, farmers markets full of fall produce to buy, pumpkin farms to wander, food and wine festivals that offer the best of Washington state products, and so much more. And our travel website, www.experiencewa.com will help you plan your trip.

 

EXPANDED ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE 2016 WASHINGTON STATE VISTORS’ GUIDE 
Jeff Adams, SagaCity
 
2015 Guides

 The thirst for travel is back and now, more than ever, publications like the official Washington State Visitors’ Guide are helping people determine where to stay, what to do, and what to experience on their vacations.

Production is now underway on the 2016 Washington State Visitors’ Guide. With a readership of nearly one million prospective travelers seeking tips and information on where to stay, eat, and play in Washington, the 2016 Guide is a must buy for businesses wanting to reach interested and incoming visitors.

Your ad will be seen by travelers in print, online, and on their phones and tablets, allowing your brand to reach prospective visitors in a variety of ways as they plan their trip to and through Washington State. New for 2016, we have added enhanced listings for Accommodations and Restaurants.

Reserve your ad space before October 16 to secure significant savings with discounted Early Bird rates!  And your WTA membership brings even greater discounts. For more information, contact Jeff Adams at SagaCity Media (jadams@sagacitymedia.com) or 206-454-3007).

We look forward to partnering with you in the 2016 Guide, to drive visitors to your business.

 

FEATURE YOUR EVENTS ON EXPERIENCEWA.COM
Mike Moe

In the past year, the ExperienceWA.com website has had close to 620,000 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

This year an advertiser in Bellingham promoted their relay race as a Featured Event on the Events page. Their website garnered almost 400 clicks from their listing and at only $330 ($363 for non-members), they 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 at mike@watourismalliance.com or call him at 425-444-0589.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

CHEFS AND DINERS LOOK FORWARD TO AN ABUNDANT HARVEST DURING THE WILD MUSHROOM CELEBRATION

WESTPORT WINERY TO HOST HALLOWEEN MYSTERY DINNER THEATER

 

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 RENEWING MEMBERS:

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, Cedarbrook Lodge,Chambers Bay Golf, City of Port Angeles, CityPass, Clark Nuber, PS, Colville Chamber of Commerce, Forks Chamber of Commerce, Holland America Line, MOHAI, MPI WA Chapter,Mt. Baker Foothills Chamber of Commerce, OLT Visitor & Convention Bureau, Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission,Paradisos del Sol Winery, Quinault Beach Resort & Casino,Silver Cloud Inns and Hotels, The Embassy Suites – Lynnwood,Westfield Southcenter Mall, Wing Luke Museum

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.

August 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE  
Louise Stanton-Masten     

 Last week I and several Washington State DMO representatives attended the U.S. Travel Association’s ESTO annual conference in Portland, Oregon. Sessions focused on state and local marketing and advertising, public relations, product development and international travel trade. Among other topics, we heard about digital marketing trends and social media, destination branding and innovative small budget marketing ideas from other states. With over 860 tourism professionals in attendance the conference provided great networking opportunities to learn from our piers in the industry and explore best practices.

At a meeting with state tourism office directors we exchanged ideas and learned what other states are doing with their marketing programs, branding, and collaborative partnerships at local, state and federal levels. We received federal policy updates on airport modernization and transportation reauthorization, Open Skies, the JOLT Act, and the Visa Waver Program.

Brand USA provided information at the conference on their international market prioritization and segmentation and forecasted trends for 2016. They presented a very special preview of a new documentary film that they are producing, “America Wild: A National Parks Adventure” which will be released next February in celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service.

Washington State was well represented at the conference with staff from seven DMOs and the WTA, including Bellevue, Long Beach Peninsula, San Juan Islands, Seattle Southside, Snohomish County, Spokane, and Vancouver USA. We all look forward to working together with our DMO partners, members and stakeholders on the ideas and concepts that were presented at the conference.

Esto

Sharon Linton (Bellevue), Kristina Thorne (Seattle Southside), Amy Spain (Snohomish County), Tim Robinson (Spokane), Chris Thompson (Brand USA), Cheryl Kilday (Spokane), Deborah Hopkins Buchanan (San Juan Islands), Louise Stanton-Masten (WTA), Andi Day (Long Beach Peninsula), Roger Dow (USTA). Missing from photo Natalie Zadak and Carrie Schave (Vancouver USA).

 

WASHINGTON STATE WILDFIRES 
Mike Moe

 This summer many communities in North Central and North Eastern Washington have been devastated by wildfires. The WTA has been working with our industry partners and the local leaders in the areas affected to provide information to tourists through our social media outlets and on the ExperienceWA.com website. Annette Pitts of the Cascade Loop, Tom Campbell of the Campbell Resort in Chelan and Shilo Schauer of the Wenatchee Chamber of Commerce all sit on the WTA board of directors and will be instrumental in the process of providing support to these communities.

The WTA understands the economic hardships and personal loss, not to mention the loss of life during this tragedy and will be ready to do everything we can to support these regions as they work their way towards recovery. At the appropriate time we will provide complimentary messaging on the ExperienceWA website and through our eNewsletter to help bring visitors back to beautiful Eastern Washington.

In the meantime, for a complete list of links, updates and places to donate or help, visit the Washington Tourism Alliance website here . Additionally, please find community updates below.

 

WILDFIRE RELIEF EFFORTS IN THE LAKE CHELAN VALLEY 
Mike Steele – Executive Director, Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce

Chelan Valley Hope representatives have reaffirmed this morning that cash donations still continue to be the greatest area of need. Chelan Valley Hope continues to host volunteers from the Red Cross. Chelan Valley Hope is located at 417 S. Bradley Street. The Community Foundation of North Central

Washington continues to authorize funds for relief efforts to Chelan Valley Hope to satisfy these short term needs. Chelan Valley Hope has a practiced and proficient intake process to prevent fraud and assist those individuals in need. For individuals wanting to donate to the relief efforts, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington has set up a Chelan Valley Fire Relief Fund. Donations can be made online at cfncw.org or by calling (509) 663-7716. Chelan Valley Hope representatives continue to reiterate that physical items are not needed at this time.

We have identified there will be a need for volunteers in the long term recovery efforts and Chelan Valley Hope is collecting a list of individuals who would like to be contacted when these specific needs are identified. Businesses looking for assistance in navigating insurance claims, product losses, etc., are asked to contact the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce for assistance.

Representatives from the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, Chelan Valley Hope, North Central Washington Community Foundation, Historic Downtown Chelan Association, Manson Community Council, Port of Chelan County, City of Chelan and RealLife Church will continue to meet and regularly assess the short and long term needs of the Lake Chelan Valley as the community recovers from the devastating effects of the Chelan Complex Wildfire.

Resources:

  • Chelan Valley Hope – (509) 888-2114, chelanvalleyhope.org/ , PO Box 635, Chelan, WA 98816
  • Community Foundation of North Central Washington’s Chelan Valley Fire Relief Fund – (509) 663-7716, www.cfncw.org/ , 9 S. Wenatchee Ave, Wenatchee, WA 98801

Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce – (509) 682-3503, lakechelan.com/

CASCADE LOOP FIRE RELIEF SUPPORT  

The communities affected by the fires are grateful for your support as we respond and recover from these events. A fund established at the Community Foundation of North Central Washington allows people to help either all of Okanogan County or a specific community. The funds will be used by established organizations with experience serving our county. Visit http://www.cfncw.org/ and click the link on the home page.

 

THE WTA REMEMBERS JAMIE FAY

The WTA was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Jamie Fay, Director of Sales and Marketing and Assistant General Manager at Chambers Bay Golf Course and long time supporter of the WTA. Through his work at Chambers Bay, Jamie was an ardent advocate for Washington State tourism. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues.

More information can be found here

SERIOUSLY SOCIAL SCENIC BYWAYS WORKSHOP

“Seriously Social” Workshop, September 30-Oct 2 at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop. At least once a year, you should get out of the office and have fun-away from the politically correct engagements-and enjoy an experience with your friends and colleagues. If you happen to learn something… SCORE! 

The keynote address by George Sharp is guaranteed to reduce your need for caffeine. George recently resigned from the WTA Board of Directors and left the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau to start his own business, Sharp Strategies and Solutions LLC. His business is focused on serving Community and Economic Development Organizations, Destination Marketing Organizations, Small Businesses and Non-profit Organizations. His topic at the workshop will be: Tourism- How to make something from nothing or enhance what you have to attract visitors to your area.

The rest of the lineup includes Mitch Nichols, our team of insiders, and other people you either know or should.

Click HERE to get the details and to register.

 

 BE SURE TO INCLUDE EXPERIENCEWA IN YOUR 2016 ADVERTISING BUDGET
Mike Moe

2015 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 your business or destination begins to plan for 2016, we would like to share some highlights from the past year.

In the beginning of 2015, we initiated the REWARDS program for our banner ad platform and it has been extremely successful. Our advertisers are only paying an average of $1.73 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 2015. As you know, there are limited spaces available to advertise in our eNewsletter and the ad spaces for 2016 are already being taken! If you want advertising space in our eNewsletter next year, let us know as soon as possible.

The custom eNewsletters have also been extremely popular. Of course, with an average cost-per-click of $1.85, why wouldn’t they? Again we are running a limited number of Custom eNewsletters in 2016, so if you have specific months you want to target, make sure to reserve your space soon.

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 advertiser put an article up in December and it has had over 7,000 pageviews and it’s generated over 5,000 clicks to their website.

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 to view the full ExperienceWA Media Kit/ .

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS   

WASHINGTON STATE CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL IS COMING TO SPOKANE

PACIFIC COUNTY FAIR CELEBRATES TIES TO THE LAND AND RURAL WAYS
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 JULY MEMBERS 

 

RENEWING MEMBERS:

4 Culture, City of Gig Harbor, Everett Community College, Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, The Herbfarm, Holiday Inn Express – Bellingham, Homewood Suites – Seattle, Lynnwood PFD Convention Center, The Northwest Woodworker’s Gallery, Port of Chelan County, Quality Inn Valley Suites, Ride the Ducks, Silver Reef Hotel, Skagit Valley Tourism, SpringHill Suites, Visit Rainier, Washington State University, Whidbey & Camano Island Tourism, White Pass Scenic Byway

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online HERE .

 

 

 

 

July 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE
Louise Stanton-Masten

Since the 2015 legislative session ended the WTA has been focused on undertaking the steps necessary to prepare our long-term funding legislation for the 2016 session. While it was disappointing to not get our bills passed this year or to get the interim funding that we were seeking, we are well underway with our action plans to build a successful campaign for the next session.
In June the WTA Board of Directors reviewed and approved a draft interim legislative plan, with objectives designed to position us for success. Work is ongoing to establish the final plan. Our primary objectives are to identify and secure additional support from businesses subject to the assessment fees; strengthen relationships and secure support from legislators; maintain and grow support from organizations that represent the assessed sectors; achieve support and commitment from non-assessed tourism industry sectors; build an outreach campaign. The WTA legislative committee will be working with grassroots teams in legislative districts and with tourism partners to help gain support for our legislation.
As we move forward with all of the components of our legislative plan we’ll be reaching out in a number of ways for member and stakeholder involvement. Your input and support will be critical in helping us get our legislation passed in the next session so that we achieve our goal of adequate funding to support our statewide tourism marketing program.

VISIT RAINIER CENTENNIAL GEOTOUR
Mary Kay Nelson, Executive Director, Visit Rainier

Visit Rainier has partnered with Mt. Rainier National Park and the Washington State Geocaching Association to create one more way to enjoy Mt. Rainier this summer, by launching the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour!

Over the next two years, 100 new geocaches will be placed around Mt. Rainier National Park and its gateway communities to celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016.
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
The GeoTour has its own page on

geocaching.com

, which lists all the geocaches. Each cache contains a code word that participants can record in a passport (downloadable on VisitRainier.com). When the passport contains all 25 code words, participants can turn it in for a trackable pathtag. A new pathtag will be available for each series. If a player logs all 100 caches, they can receive a commemorative geocoin.
Caches on the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour will be released in four separate series, 25 at a time, the first release launched at 4 p.m. on June 13, 2015, following a CITO (Cache in Trash Out) event at Mt. Rainier National Park. A kick-off event was held.at Whittaker Mountaineering/RMI in Ashford.

Passports, prizes and giveaways were available. Over 800 finds were recorded in just 16 days on the first series of 25 caches.
For more information on the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour, check outwww.visitrainier.com or www.geocaching.com.

SPOKANE’S LITTLE VAN NAMED ACE TURNS ONE

July 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE  
Louise Stanton-Masten     

Since the 2015 legislative session ended the WTA has been focused on undertaking the steps necessary to prepare our long-term funding legislation for the 2016 session. While it was disappointing to not get our bills passed this year or to get the interim funding that we were seeking, we are well underway with our action plans to build a successful campaign for the next session.

In June the WTA Board of Directors reviewed and approved a draft interim legislative plan, with objectives designed to position us for success. Work is ongoing to establish the final plan. Our primary objectives are to identify and secure additional support from businesses subject to the assessment fees; strengthen relationships and secure support from legislators; maintain and grow support from organizations that represent the assessed sectors; achieve support and commitment from non-assessed tourism industry sectors; build an outreach campaign. The WTA legislative committee will be working with grassroots teams in legislative districts and with tourism partners to help gain support for our legislation.

As we move forward with all of the components of our legislative plan we’ll be reaching out in a number of ways for member and stakeholder involvement. Your input and support will be critical in helping us get our legislation passed in the next session so that we achieve our goal of adequate funding to support our statewide tourism marketing program.

 

 

VISIT RAINIER CENTENNIAL GEOTOUR
Mary Kay Nelson, Executive Director, Visit Rainier  

Visit Rainier has partnered with Mt. Rainier National Park and the Washington State Geocaching Association to create one more way to enjoy Mt. Rainier this summer, by launching the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour!

Over the next two years, 100 new geocaches will be placed around Mt. Rainier National Park and its gateway communities to celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016.

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

The GeoTour has its own page on geocaching.com, which lists all the geocaches. Each cache contains a code word that participants can record in a passport (downloadable on VisitRainier.com). When the passport contains all 25 code words, participants can turn it in for a trackable pathtag. A new pathtag will be available for each series. If a player logs all 100 caches, they can receive a commemorative geocoin.

Caches on the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour will be released in four separate series, 25 at a time, the first release launched at 4 p.m. on June 13, 2015, following a CITO (Cache in Trash Out) event at Mt. Rainier National Park. A kick-off event was held.at Whittaker Mountaineering/RMI in Ashford.  Passports, prizes and giveaways were available. Over 800 finds were recorded in just 16 days on the first series of 25 caches.

For more information on the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour, check out www.visitrainier.com or www.geocaching.com.

 

 

SPOKANE’S LITTLE VAN NAMED ACE TURNS ONE 

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Since the launch of Visit Spokane’s little van, Ace, a year ago, it has proven to be an invaluable resource for visitors. The mobile visitor information center, operated by Melissa Skomer-Kafton, Visitor Engagement Specialist at Visit Spokane, has ventured throughout the region — helping nearly 5,000 people with suggestions ranging from where to eat and what to see, to where you can pan for gold.

Melissa and Ace have attended nearly 50 events since 2014 and have parked in populated spots across Spokane, ranging from the Spokane Valley Mall to the Medical Lake Waterfront.

Ace discovered first hand (first tire?) that this region is quite the active community. Melissa and Ace have helped attendees who were in town for: volleyball, basketball, football, running (marathon and smaller), golf, cycling, hammer-throwing, wrestling, skiing, baseball, boxing, and BBQing.

“One of the busiest days I had was spent in the Convention Center breezeway during the KuroNekoCon Anime Convention, the Color Run and Job’s Daughters registration,” said Melissa. “Events like these have brought an array of people to the Spokane community, and it is so helpful we can drive right to the events and deliver tons of information. In a year we have handed out thousands of visitor guides and maps.”

Over the past year, Ace and Melissa have weathered 100-degree days (hottest day: 108-degrees at last year’s Cheney Jubilee), been to just about every park in the region and even required one jump start at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

“I get to have super fun interactions with people from all over the world. I met three guys who were riding their bikes from Maine to the Pacific Coast,” said Melissa. “The men needed help booking three RVs for the weekend for their wives (their support crew), and I was able to help them with that as well as recommend some restaurants and get them set up at a bike shop. They were so thankful for the help that one of them wrote about me in his blog.”

Conversations she has had tend to bring up funny topics such as, “where to buy marijuana, where the nearest strip club is, how to climb the clock tower, and even where the nudist resort is (Spokane does not have one.),” said Melissa.  “A guy even wanted to know if he could take his RV on the North Cascades Highway because he did not think that many highways in Washington were paved.”

Ace can be found cruising all over Spokane, but you can follow its schedule easily on Twitter at @VisitSpokaneACE. Ace’s next big event will be during its first birthday, when Ace is once again positioned to help the thousands of people in town for Hoopfest, June 27-28.

“Ace has been a great addition to the Spokane region this past year and we anticipate another great year ahead of helping people find out all the great things going on in our community,” said Cheryl Kilday, Visit Spokane President & CEO.

More information about Ace and its whereabouts can be found here.

 

BANNER ADS ON EXPERIENCEWA PRODUCE MORE FOR LESS 
Mike Moe 

Performing well below the industry standard at $1.73 average cost per click, the banner ad program on ExperienceWA will give you more than you bargained for. With the ability to focus your message on certain ad channels throughout the website and control of the timeframe over which your ads are served, you can make sure your ads find the audience you’re looking for.

This incredible value has been driven by our REWARDS program that gives advertisers up to double the impressions purchased. During this limited time offer, you can buy as few as 20,000 impressions and receive up to 20,000 extra impressions for $580 for WTA members and $656 for non-members.

To learn more, contact Mike Moe at 425-444-0589, ormike@watourismalliance.com. Or, click to view the fullExperienceWA Media Kit.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS   

SNOHOMISH COUNTY SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVE

WILLAPA FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND

 

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 JUNE MEMBERS 

RENEWING MEMBERS:

Fran’s Chocolates, Holiday Inn Express – Downtown Spokane, Holiday Inn Express – Yakima/Ellensburg, Hyatt Regency Bellevue, Maryhill Winery, Port Madison Enterprises – Clearwater Casino, Sheraton Bellevue Hotel, Teatro ZinZanni, Visit Lewis Clark Valley 

 

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.

June 2015 Newsletter

 
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE  
Louise Stanton-Masten     

Each year the WTA publishes an annual statewide travel data report. Research conducted by Dean Runyan Associates for the WTA documents visitor spending, tourism employment, tax revenue and other statistics. The WTA released preliminary data from this year’s report that indicates that tourism in Washington State improved slightly in 2014, but inconsistently throughout various counties in Washington and comparatively slower than the state’s overall taxable sales growth. We believe that the report underscores the need for long-term marketing funding and for interim funding from the Legislature for the WTA this year.

 Direct visitor spending in Washington was $19 billion in 2014, up 5 percent over 2013, according to the State Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume 1991 -2014 report. This compares with 7.1 percent growth in overall state taxable sales during the same period, according to figures released by the Washington State Department of Commerce.

 WTA’s new research also reported on tourism employment and tax revenue. The travel and tourism industry supported more than 163,400 jobs in 2014, up 2.7 percent from 2013. Local and state travel-generated tax revenue was $1.1 billion, representing roughly 6.1 percent of all state and local tax revenues and generating $410 in tax revenue for each Washington household.

 A copy of the Executive Summary of the report can be found on the WTA website.

We believe that the research underscores the importance of the tourism marketing programs that the WTA has been doing with our limited funding, which include the ExperienceWA.com destination website, Washington State Visitors’ Guide, call center and international marketing, and for a long-term, industry led and funded tourism marketing program.

As WTA Board Chair Cheryl Kilday said, “Robust worldwide travel, combined with the individual tourism marketing investments of the state’s major cities, port districts, local tourism promotion areas and private sector companies, have helped buoy our industry for the past four years since the state tourism office closed. And we’re also grateful for interim funding from the legislature the past two years which has helped sustain our state visitor guide, web site, visitor call center and other essential visitor services. This support, in conjunction with the nation-wide travel and tourism growth trend, has been absolutely critical to keeping Washington tourism alive until our industry funding plan can be deployed.”

However we are concerned about loss of tourism market share in the absence of a legislatively approved, industry funded long-term marketing program. And our latest research has shown a disparity in tourism impacts in eastern and western Washington and we believe that our tourism marketing investment must be statewide to make a broad impact.

This year our long-term funding legislation for statewide tourism marketing was introduced in Olympia and received significant support but ran out of time for approval. Plans are underway to continue the approval process in the next session and secure passage of this important legislation.

 
LEGISLATURE FAILS TO INCLUDE TOURISM FUNDING IN THE BUDGET 
Becky Bogard   

When the final proposal for the 2015-17 biennium budget was released on Monday afternoon, sadly there was no funding to continue the tourism activities funded in the current biennium budget. While the Senate proposed budget included funding for the tourism activities, the House budget did not. WTA and its allies mounted a campaign to get the funds included in the final proposal.

WTA had requested that the same level of funding — $500,000 for each year of the biennium – be included to give some more time to work out a proposal for an industry funded and industry controlled long term plan. The funds would have continued the support for the website, the call center, postage for the guide, the international program and research. In the coming weeks the WTA board and staff will be assessing the impact of the loss of these funds and how to proceed during the next year.

This has been a very difficult budget year with the majorities in the House and the Senate disagreeing on their approaches. One wanted new revenues through additional taxes; the other wanted no new taxes believing that the natural growth of state revenues provided significant funding to do what was necessary. The legislature was also charged with providing significant additional funding for K-12 education pursuant to the Washington State Supreme Court order in the McCleary decision. Another court decision relating to the treatment of the mentally ill also put additional stress on the budget. There were demands for COLA’s for teachers and state employee salary increases. In the end, the demands were simply greater than the funds available.

While we are disappointed, WTA and its members need to move forward to refine and gain support for a long term funding plan. Within the next month, there will be additional information on how we will go forward with this task.

IPW 2015
John Cooper, WTA Board of Directors and Director, President and CEO, Yakima Valley Tourism
photo (2)
A team of six traveled to IPW15 in Orlando last month to promote Washington State to international tour operators and media. IPW (also known as Pow Wow) is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S. Attendees include U.S. exhibitors, international and domestic travel buyers and journalists.  In three days of intensive pre-scheduled appointments, more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations from every region of the U.S., and close to 1,200 international and domestic buyers from more than 70 countries conducted business negotiations that are expected to result in $4.7 billion in future USA travel.WTA created a double booth this year which meant twice the appointments. In total, nearly 95 operators and media were assisted. Attending the show this year were Louise Stanton-Masten of WTA, John Cooper of Yakima Valley Tourism, Marsha Massey of the Olympic Pennisula Visitors Bureau, Patty Denny of the Port of Seattle and Kyla Cavanagh with the Olympia – Lacey – Tumwater VCB. Former Port of Seattle employee B.J. Stokey coordinated the WTA presence at the show.

WTA WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBER
Louise Stanton-Masten 

The WTA is pleased to welcome Andi Day to the WTA Board of Directors. Andi was appointed this month as the Washington State Destination Marketing Organization (WSDMO) representative to the Board. She fills a position formerly held by George Sharp, who retired as Executive Director of Visit Olympia- Lacy-Tumwater. We thank George for his long-time service and dedication to the WTA.

Andi is the Executive Director of the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. She is a fourth generation Washingtonian, grew up in the tourism and commercial fishing industries and is a proud WSU Cougar. Andi has an extensive professional background in marketing and business and is passionate about promoting Washington State. She served this past year on the WTA marketing committee. We are pleased to welcome Andi to the WTA Board of Directors.

 
SPECIAL PROMOTION FROM EXPERIENCEWA AND KING 5 
Mike Moe  

The Washington Tourism Alliance has teamed up with KING 5 to bring our members and advertisers a chance to be featured on the ExperienceWA website as well as on the iconic KING 5 televisions shows Evening and New Day Northwest. This rare opportunity will give your business or destination the possibility to be showcased to viewers all throughout the Northwest on the KING 5 family of networks, as well as to the word on ExperienceWA.com, Washington’s website for tourism information.

In this collaboration, the editors of the ExperienceWA.com website will write an article about your destination or business. You will work with an experienced editor who will work directly with you to create a feature length article that will be promoted and linked throughout ExperienceWA.com from open display inventory. The entire article page will be devoted to your business, and the display advertising space on that page will also be yours providing links to your website. The article is live on the site for a full year – but you’ll own the content forever with the ability to repost the information wherever you choose.

To make an even stronger impression, you can bundle your article with a shout-out or in-studio segment on New Day Northwest, or a story shot on-location on Evening! Content on these two celebrated TV shows will give you the chance to reach affluent Northwest natives right in their living rooms. After being aired on KING 5, these segments will be replayed again on KONG TV or Northwest Cable News and streamed on king5.com. To reach an even broader audience, your video will also be accessible on king5.com for 18 months with a link provided to embed on your site and for sharing via social media.  Additionally, there will be linked to your ExperienceWA article.

During this promotion, you will receive significant discounts for these products. This is your opportunity to showcase your experience like never before! For more details contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or 425-444-0589, or contact Leah Matteo at lmatteo@king5.com or 206-448-3173. Click here to see the ExperienceWA.com Media Kit.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS   

VISIT SPOKANE APPLAUDS DAVENPORT TEAM

 

WTA WELCOMES MAY MEMBERS 

 

May 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE  
Louise Stanton-Masten   

 As the WTA has been reporting to our members and stakeholders the past several months our focus has been, and will continue to be, on passage of our legislation for long-term industry supported funding for statewide tourism marketing. Currently, though, our attention is on securing interim funding in this year’s State budget which will enable us to continue our current programs. (See Special Sessions Continue later in the newsletter.)

Over the next several months the WTA Board, staff and legislative counsel will be working to refine our proposal and build a campaign for passage of the legislation during the 2016 session. We’ll be working to identify and secure additional support from the businesses subject to the assessment fees. We’ll be actively engaging our state legislators to garner additional support for our legislation beyond that which we had this year. And we’ll be reaching out to you for input and support. I encourage you to please stay involved and help us in achieving our goal of achieving adequate funding to support our statewide tourism marketing program.

 
SPECIAL SESSIONS CONTINUE 
Becky Bogard   

 The current state budget provides for funding of Washington State government through June 30, 2015. Without a new budget that would take effect on July 1, non-essential state government services would have to shut down. Funding for certain programs, including the current funding for tourism promotion provided by the interim funding that the WTA received in 2013, comes to an end.

As we all know by now, the Legislature failed to pass a new budget and began a special session on April 28. The state constitution provides that a special session can last for 30 days. That means the current special session ends on May 28.

It is clear that the Legislature is not going to have a budget for the 2015-17 biennium by May 28. Governor Inslee has already said he will call the Legislature into a second special session starting May 29. Hopefully legislators can approve a new budget before June 28, when the second special session would be due to end.

Why the lack of agreement? The Senate, controlled by Republicans, has approved a budget that does not require new taxes. Since that budget was approved, the state revenue forecasters predicted an increase of $400 million in the state general fund. Even Governor Inslee was reported to have said that a tax package the size of what he originally proposed is not needed.

Do not, however, read this to mean he has abandoned a desire for some new revenue. Both he and his colleagues in the Democratically controlled House would like to see additional revenues to meet the needs of the McCleary decision on K-12 funding without affecting higher education and other government programs.

Part of this budget dilemma impacts tourism funding. When the Senate passed its budget, it included a proposal for $1 million in interim funding to continue the current level of activity that included website development, operation of a call center, sending travel guides, research, and international programs. The House had no such provision in its budget. These funds would allow WTA to continue its programmatic work while refining the proposal for a reliable long term funding source.

WTA has been working with budget negotiators to make certain that the final budget includes these funds. We have gotten some positive indications from both House and Senate negotiators although they caution that the size of the budget “box” has not yet been decided. We believe they know the value of tourism and want to make certain that we do not reduce our efforts.

The best way for WTA members to influence the final budget is to ask your own legislators to talk to their caucus’ budget negotiators about the value of tourism. We need those negotiators to keep the $1 million for interim funding for the WTA for another biennium!

 

UK TOURISM MISSION 
Jane Kilburn, WTA Board of Directors and Director, Tourism Development, Port of Seattle

 May 26 – 29, 2015

A delegation of 11 from destinations, business and government gathered in London at the end of April to make key contacts with UK tour operators and travel trade media and to commemorate 30 years of promoting Seattle and Washington State in the UK. This market is one of the longest standing and most prolific international long-haul markets for our destination. WTA Executive Director Louise Stanton-Masten and board member Jane Kilburn, International Tourism Development Director at the Port of Seattle, were members of the delegation.

Led by the Port of Seattle and the international tourism partnership’s UK representative firm First PR, the group met with about 50 individual tour operators-conducting training for key agency staff and meeting others 1:1 in a mini-trade show. Part of the group spent a morning conducting radio interviews about our destination, reaching hundreds of thousands of listeners. That group also met with UK journalists over lunch. These meetings provided targeted and rich opportunities to introduce and reinforce the beauty, variety and ease of travel to our state. The UK traveler spends at least 7 nights abroad on their vacation, they are looking for authentic experiences and they are very interested in food and drink, such as wine and breweries.

An educational session provided the delegation insights into the UK market from the perspectives of an airline, large and small tour agencies, and regional media. Last year, more than $3 million in advertising equivalency media was generated for our destination in this market and more than 100 tour agencies feature our destination. In the past year alone, we have seen healthy growth in the number of hotels offered (11%), cruises sold (20%) and in tours sold (28%). In 2014, Delta Aril Lines initiated service from Heathrow Airport, joining British Airways which has been the sole non-stop carrier into Seattle for a number of years.

The highlight of the mission was the celebration reception and dinner at the Tower Bridge, where the delegation welcomed 90 guests who have supported this destination over the years by promoting our destination to a variety of clients or by covering our part of the world in the media. Delta Airlines was a major sponsor of the evening.

 
COUNTING DOWN TO THE US OPEN AT CHAMBERS BAY
Jaime Vogt, Vice President of Marketing

With U.S. Open banners lining the city streets, you can already see something big is coming to Pierce County, Washington. Travel Tacoma + Pierce Countyhas been working with the U.S.G.A. and our local and regional partnerships to make sure that visitors won’t soon forget their historic attendance to this groundbreaking Championship.

Travel Tacoma has developed an ambassador program, for community volunteers to welcome U.S. Open guests to the County, answer questions, and help them discover restaurants and attractions in the area. To help with this, a new mobile and tablet friendly website was launched in May, along with a special dining guide and visitor guide.

Travel Tacoma + Pierce County is also making a splash at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. A joint advertising campaign with the City of Tacoma has caught the attention of several travelers passing through the airport. Ambassadors, destination advertising and welcome messages at Hudson News stores will let U.S. Open arriving passengers know that they are coming to a community that is engaged and excited to have them here.

 
THE EXPERIENCEWA WEBSITE IS SHOWING SIGNIFICANT GROWTH 
Mike Moe 
Chambers

Visitors to Washington State are using ExperienceWA.com more and more as the go-to travel resource for all things Washington. Traffic increased 26% in 2014, with more than 581,000 visitors and 1.7 million page views. These visits translated into over 154,000 referrals to our partners! So far there has been even more growth in 2015 with 173,000 visits to the site in January-March alone. During the month of April, the website had over 60,000 unique visitors, up 36% from last year.

Since the introduction of free basic listings for any tourism related business, more than 11,000 entities including hotels, restaurants and attractions have been listed. If your business or destination hasn’t yet been listed, please email experienceWAdata@milespartnership.com to create your listing. If you are interested in other opportunities on the site, please click here to see our Media Kit or call Mike Moe at 425-444-0589 or email him at mike@watourismalliance.com.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS   

BLOEDEL RESERVE CLAIMS BEST LAWN IN AMERICA TITLE

WALLA WALLA SELECTED AS HOST DESTINATION FOR 2016 TRAVEL AND WORDS NORTHWEST TRAVEL WRITERS CONFERENCE

FROLIK KITCHEN + COCKTAILS NAMED A TOP TEN HOTEL ROOFTOP BAR

TRI-CITIES REGION CELEBRATES WASHINGTON WINE

 

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 APRIL MEMBERS 

 

NEW MEMBERS:

 Doubletree – SeaTac, Hilton – SeaTac, SGTS USA

RENEWING MEMBERS:

Alaska Airlines, The Boeing Company, Clark County Public Facilities District, Coast Hotels & Resorts, Copacino & Fujikado, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Fairfield Inn, Food Services of America, Hotel Max, Mt Rainier Visitor Association, Museum of Flight, Okanogan County Tourism Council, Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, Olympic Property Group, Quincy Valley Tourism, Seattle Bed and Breakfast Association, Seattle Seahawks, Skamania County Chamber of Commerce, Snohomish County Tourism Bureau, Squaxin Island Tribe Tourism Department, Three Rivers Convention Center, Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, Travelodge Seattle Center, Union Gap Tourism, Visit Spokane, Washington Indian Gaming Association, Washington State Fair

 ,

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.

April 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE  
Louise Stanton-Masten   

 The WTA joins with our travel partners around the state in celebrating National Travel and Tourism week which starts this coming weekend.

A program of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), National Travel and Tourism week May 2 – 10 is an annual salute to travel and tourism in America and highlights the power of travel and the positive impact that our industry makes to the local and national economy.

 Travel and tourism is one of America’s largest industries and provides significant economic benefits for the nation. According to USTA, travel to and within the United States generates $2.1 trillion for the U.S. economy with $927.9 billion spent directly by travelers in 2014 according to USTA.

 Here in Washington, preliminary data in the Dean Runyan report “State Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume 1991 -2014”indicates that visitors to Washington State spent more than $19 billion in 2014.   The WTA plans to provide our report on the full economic impact of travel to our state from the report in May.

 What a great time to Experience Washington! WTA travel planning resources like the new 2015 Washington State Visitors’ Guide, the ExperiencWA.com website, the visitor information call center (1-800-544-1800) and the resources of local destination marketing organizations throughout the state make planning Washington travel easy and fun.

WTA LEGISLATIVE REPORT
Becky Bogard   

 Unable to complete work on a budget for fiscal years 2015-17, the Washington State Legislature has now gone into “overtime”. The regular session ended two days early on April 24. The first special session will begin on Wednesday, April 29.

What are the rules for the special session? Governor Inslee has called the legislators back to Olympia for what can be up to 30 days. Of course if the legislators get their work done earlier, then they can adjourn. If they don’t get their work done, the governor can call them back for another special session. He can keep doing that until they get a budget.

The current state budget expires on June 30. If there is not a new budget, then non-essential state government services will have to shut down. Governor Inslee has already asked his cabinet members to prepare their departments for such a shutdown.

So what does all this mean for tourism and funding for the future?

First, for the immediate future, WTA will continue to work on interim funding. Currently the Senate version of the biennial budget for 2015-17 has $500,000 for each fiscal year (a total of $1 million for the biennium). These funds will allow WTA to continue the activities it started with previous interim funding.   We would be able to continue sending travel planners for free to those who request them, participate in international marketing, conduct research, upgrade the website and operate a call center. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS AND ASK THEM TO ASK THEIR BUDGET NEGOTIATORS TO INCLUDE THIS FUNDING IN THE FINAL BUDGET. Without this funding, the amount of monies available for tourism marketing is almost nothing.

Second, WTA will begin to implement a strategy to refine its proposal for long term funding. During the 2015 regular legislative session we made great progress towards gaining acceptance of our proposal by legislators. However, some raised questions about industry support and some of the details of the proposal. During the interim WTA will work with members of the tourism industry as well as legislators to resolve differences and gain support for passage of a reliable long term funding source for a statewide marketing program in the 2016 legislative session. We will be calling on all of our members to support this effort!

 

SHOLARSHIP FUND IN HONOR OF DIANE SCHOSTAK
Christina Pivarnik, WTA Board of Directors

The family of Diane Schostak has established a scholarship fund in Diane’s name at Peninsula College in anticipation of supporting the College’s new Hospitality program. Diane participated in some of the initial planning for this new Hospitality program, which is slated to begin Fall 2015. The chance to support career opportunities for the hospitality field seems a very fitting – and ongoing – tribute to our vibrant and passionate friend.

Diane

The family requests in lieu of flowers, that donations are made to the Peninsula College Foundation / Diane Schostak Memorial Fund, 1502 East Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, WA 98362.

Donations may also be made online here . For questions regarding any donations, please call the Peninsula College Foundation office at 360.417.6246.

SPOKANE CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION COMPLETE 

After 17 months of work, the $55-million expansion of the Spokane Convention Center is finally complete. With the addition of 91,000 square feet to the facility, the Center now has a 120,000 sq. ft. exhibit hall, 32 meeting rooms and three ballrooms. Dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows have opened the Convention Center to spectacular views of the Spokane River and surrounding environment.

“The facility is stunning and it takes great advantage of the proximity to our beautiful river,” said Keith Backsen, Visit Spokane Vice President of Sales & Services. “What we’re really happy about is being able to share this important new chapter in Spokane’s story with meeting planners and groups who we may not have been able to reach before.”

 

OWN YOUR OWN EXPERIENCEWA ARTICLE!
Mike Moe 

Content is king when it comes to improving your search optimization.  Let Miles create new and compelling editorial for you on ExperienceWA.com that will be prominently featured on the site and designed to share the experience of your business or destination with travelers eager to add your adventure to their vacation plans. Click here to see the sponsored articles already on ExperienceWA. Even throughout the winter season, these articles have been getting 200-600 views per month!

You will work with an experienced editor who will create a feature length article with final approval on all content. Once finished, the article will be promoted and linked throughout ExperienceWA.com from open display inventory.  The entire article page will be devoted to your business, and the display advertising space on that page will also be yours providing links to your website.  The article is live on the site for a full year – but you’ll own the content forever with the ability to repost the information wherever you choose. Cost: $2,500.

Set up your call today with a Miles editor – and have your article live on the site in time for summer!  Contact Mike Moe at 425-444-0589, mike@watourismalliance.com. Click here > for our full Media Kit.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS   

SMITHSONIAN NAMES PORT TOWNSEND A TOP 20 BEST SMALL TOWN TO VISIT IN 2015 >

March 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE 
Louise Stanton-Masten  

We are excited to report the release this month of the 2015 official Washington State Visitors’ Guide. Produced in a partnership with the WTA, the Washington Lodging Association (WLA) and SagaCity Media, the 2015 edition marks the 16th annual publication of the guide. With a circulation of 375,000 copies, the guide has a readership of nearly one million. Along with our website, www.experiencewa.com, the guide is a primary tool for marketing Washington State.

The print guide is linked to www.experiencewa.com. Prospective travelers can read the guide online and order a free copy through the website. The 2015 official Washington State Visitors’ Guide highlights the state’s ten travel regions and includes regional maps, insider travel trips, itinerary suggestions and contact information for an array of standout local businesses and attractions. This year’s guide features trips of a lifetime and Washington’s national and state parks, and highlights Native American museums,  golf, fishing, birding and more. It has three unique covers to underscore the beauty and breadth of Washington State visitor experiences.

Some 65,000 copies will be mailed to Seattle Met and Portland Monthly magazine subscribers, and other copies will be featured at 2,000 visitor centers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington State and Vancouver, B.C. The guide is also available for purchase on newsstands and checkout counters at Whole Foods, QFC, Fred Meyer and Barnes & Noble and other retail locations in Washington, Oregon and California. Travelers can also access versions of the guide that are optimized for iPads, Android tablets and smart phones, and they will be able to read and order copies of the visitors’ guide online at www.StayinWashington.com, the WLA’s  consumer travel website.

2015 Guides

We encourage you to order your copy of the guide, and contact SagaCity if you would like to arrange for multiple copies for distribution.

 

WTA LEGISLATIVE REPORT
Becky Bogard  

On March 20 the House Finance Committee held a hearing on proposed Substitute House Bill 1938. While the new proposal maintains the principles of industry funded and industry controlled, it modified the collection process so that the Department of Revenue would collect all the statutory fees and deposit them in the state tourism marketing account. Previously the legislative proposal had depended on other state collection systems.

Cheryl Kilday, President of Visit Spokane, described the statewide outreach to the tourism community since the closure of the tourism office in 2011. That outreach solicited ideas about funding and implementation of a marketing plan as well as a description of the plan finally incorporated in the legislative proposal. Andy Olsen, Chair of WTA’s Long Term Funding Committee reviewed the way the proposed fees were determined and described industry input about the proposed fees. Bruce Beckett, Director of Government Affairs for the Washington Restaurant Association described the reasons for restaurant industry support of the proposal and the process his association used to arrive at its support and fee proposal. Becky Bogard, Government Relations Consultant for the WTA, reviewed the history of state tourism activities and funding, explaining why the industry chose to pursue the proposal before the committee. There were over a dozen organizations signed in supporting the bill and no one testifying or signing in opposed.

Representative Steve Tharinger (D-Grays Harbor) noted, “This is a $17B industry that we are not marketing right now.” Tharinger recognized that if the state wants to be marketed, the effort needs to be funded and, “[these sectors] have come together to figure out a financing way to do that, that’s outside of our general fund.”

Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), chair of the committee recognized that surrounding states, “put substantial dollars into tourism, which is a critical industry to our state” adding “to get the industry to proactively come to the table (they must) clearly believe in the overall return on investment.”

Rep. Cary Condotta (R- Chelan) was vocally and strongly opposed to the proposal saying 90% of Chelan would be “taxed” and called it a “forced union” and “fascism.” Other legislators questioned the “consent mechanism” and asked how we can ensure that all areas of the state would be represented.

The WTA panelists responded that these fees would be used by the industry to implement a program that benefitted all parts of the state because, among other reasons, the WTA board is quite diverse geographically and size of businesses. Many WTA members were well aware of the shortcomings of the previous state program and, with industry leadership, do not intend to repeat those mistakes. With respect to the support of the industry the panel reiterated the significant outreach to the large number of tourism related businesses.

On the Senate side we are waiting for a hearing to be scheduled in the Ways and Means Committee on SB 5916, the companion to SHB 1938. SB 5916 was reported out of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee, but needs to be considered and reported out of the Ways and Means Committee before a full vote of the Senate can take place.

These bills are exempt from self-imposed deadlines the legislature establishes because they produce new revenues. What this means is that we have until the end of the regular session, April 26, to get either the House or Senate bill passed by the legislature and to the Governor for his action.

While we do have bi-partisan support for the bill, vocal opposition, as was displayed in the March 20 hearing, from legislators threatens our efforts as we go forward. Please remember to contact legislators when we ask you to and urge them to support this proposal. Your voice and action is critical to our success.

We are the only state in the nation without a state-funded tourism office/marketing authority. We are breaking new ground and we have developed a proposal that has been deeply and thoughtfully crafted with input from around the state and different sectors since the summer of 2011. We have spent years traveling the state, updating as many businesses and organizations as possible; seeking input and gathering feedback. We have invested time and energy into meeting with other states, commissions, legislative and state agency staff to find out what is possible and what is not, while maintaining an ‘industry funded – industry driven’ proposal. We realize, and anticipate, that there will likely be tweaks we need to make to the law once it is enacted. However, what’s important at this time is that we work together to advance and advocate for this legislation, because, without it we have nothing.

 

A TRIBUTE TO DIANE SCHOSTAK
Christina Pivarnik, WTA Board of Directors and Marsha Massey, OPVBureau Interim Executive Director

We are all greatly saddened by the news of Diane Schostak’s passing on March 23. She and her husband had traveled to Bakersfield, CA in mid-February to be with her daughter, son-in-law and newly born twins. Her health worsened quickly, but she had time to be with many family members who traveled to California to surround her in love.

Diane

Diane was a visionary, a dedicated and tireless leader in building the tourism industry for the Olympic Peninsula and across the state. Her collaborative spirit brought various voices together so we could all sing in chorus. Through her commitment to partnerships and her cooperative spirit, Diane always kept her eye on the big picture, and inspired all who knew her to do so as well. Her love of the Olympic Peninsula went deep and was infectious in imparting that love.

Diane has left a great foundation on which to continue to build. From early on, she was actively engaged in support of marketing Washington State. She was a strong ally of the former state tourism office, and when it closed, she was instrumental as one of the first WTA board members helping to lay the groundwork for our industry-funded, statewide tourism marketing program currently with the legislature.

Those of us on the Olympic Peninsula are committed to carrying on her legacy of collaboration and outreach. We will miss her energy and passion and great embrace for all. Our thoughts and prayers go out in support of her family. No further arrangements have been advised at this time. We’ll let you know when we have additional information.

 

MUMFORD & SONS EXPECTED TO GENERATE $12 MILLION FOR WALLA WALLA

The recent announcement that Grammy Award winning band Mumford & Sons will hold one of its four U.S. “Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festival” events in Walla Walla Aug. 14-15 was certainly great news to fans of the British folk rock band, but business leaders in Walla Walla saw a different silver lining to the two-day festival.

StopOver

Conservative estimates by the City of Walla Walla, Tourism Walla Walla, and the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation put the community-wide economic impact of this festival-which is expected to draw up to 30,000 attendees, many of whom will be visiting Walla Walla for the first time-at $12 million.

“From tasting rooms and restaurants, to lodging properties, retailers, and attractions, we are confident that almost all aspects of the Walla Walla business community will benefit from the economic impact this festival will generate,” said Ron Peck, executive director of Tourism Walla Walla.

In choosing Walla Walla as a 2015 Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festival, event promoters gave a nod to many of the same characteristics that make Walla Walla a popular tourist destination including small town charm, friendly and welcoming residents, and the a willingness to roll out the red carpet for both performers and festival-goers.

“Many of the qualities that have earned Downtown Walla Walla a Great American Main Street designation since 2001 are the very same attributes that contributed to Mumford & Sons’ decision to pay a visit to Walla Walla” said Peck.

Tickets to the two-day festival, which features a lineup of 10 performers including Mumford & Sons, The Flaming Lips, and Seattle-based rock band Foo Fighters, cost $199 and can be purchased at http://www.gentlemenoftheroad.com/.

 

MILES WINS SILVER ADDY FOR EXPERIENCEWA.COM EMAIL

We are proud to announce that The Washington State Leisure Monthly Marketing Email produced by our Destination Marketing Partner, Miles, has won a Silver ADDY award in the Digital Advertising – Online Publication category. This leisure email is sent monthly to a subscriber list of 17K and growing. The email consistently sees an open rate of over 52%, over twice the Travel & Leisure Industry average. The Click to Open Rate is 23% – also double the industry average and the email delivered over 15,000 page views to ExperienceWA.com in 2014!

The email content follows an editorial calendar determined by seasonality and search volumes featuring Washington events, vacation ideas, travel offers and more. If you are interested in paid opportunities to be featured in an upcoming email, please contact Mike Moe at Mike@WAtourismalliance.com or 425-444-0589 and if you are not already receiving the email, please subscribe here: http://www.experiencewa.com/email-newsletter-sign.

To see the full 2015 ExperienceWA.com Media Kit, please click here.

 

WATCH VIDEOS FROM THE 2015 WTA TOURISM SUMMIT AND DAY IN OLYMPIA

For those who missed the phenomenal speakers at the 2015 WTA Tourism Summit or want to revisit the inspirational presentations, videos of each speaker are now available on the WTA’s website.

You can also watch interviews discussing the importance of tourism in Washington with the keynote speakers Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon and Chris Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA, as well as  Cheryl Kilday, WTA Board Chair and President and CEO of Visit Spokane, Louise Stanton-Masten, Executive Director of the WTA, and Tom Norwalk, President of Visit Seattle.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

CELEBRATE WOODINVILLE ANNOUNCES DATES AND LINE-UP OF MUSICIANS

WESTPORT WINERY WINS THREE SILVER MEDALS AT 2015 FLORIDA STATE FAIR INTERNATIONAL WINE AND JUICE COMPETITION

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 FEBRUARY MEMBERS

NEW MEMBERS:

Recreation Northwest   

RENEWING MEMBERS:

7 Cedars Casino & Resort Properties, Bellair Charters, Chateau Ste Michelle, City of Port Townsend, Clarion Hotel Seatac, Cowlitz County Tourism Bureau, Hilton Vancouver Washington, R.C. Hedreen Co, Tourism Walla Walla, WBBG

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.

February 2015 Newsletter

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE  
Louise Stanton-Masten  

Earlier this month at the WTA Tourism Summit, WTA Board Chair Cheryl Kilday presented a report which reviewed WTA programs and accomplishments in 2014. While the WTA focus was, and continues to be, on securing long-term funding for a statewide tourism marketing program, we are proud of the programs and services that the WTA provided to our members, stakeholders and the industry last year. Two articles later in this month’s newsletter are about the Summit in detail and the status of our long-term funding legislation.Here let’s take a look at 2014 by the numbers, as presented in our annual report at the Summit:$480,000 in short-term bridge funding from the Washington State Legislature was spent in 2014 on five specific programs which support WTA’s efforts to maintain and grow tourism in Washington State. These monies supported WTA website development and maintenance; postage for fulfillment in mailing the Washington State Visitor’s Guide; tourism research; operation of a call center; and international tourism marketing.

375,000 copies of the 2014 Washington State Visitors’ Guidewere published in March. Produced in partnership with the Washington Lodging Association and SagaCityMedia, theGuide has a circulation of 375,000 and a readership of nearly one million prospective travelers. They are distributed through direct mailing, are placed at visitor centers at SeaTac airport and throughout the state, are mailed to 65,000readers of Seattle Met and Portland Met magazines and are sold at newsstands throughout Washington and Oregon.

Over 154,500 partner referrals on www.experiencewa.com in 2014, WTA’s official travel and tourism website for the state of Washington.  Traffic saw a 26% increase over 2013 with over 581, 500 visitors and over 1.7 million page views.

3,000 calls were answered by our 1-800-544-1800 call center, providing travel information and referrals to prospective visitors to Washington State.

215 companies and organizations renewed their membership investment in the WTA and 20 new members joined the WTA this year.

175 WTA members and industry stakeholders attended the 4th Annual Tourism Summit and Day in Olympia in January, 2014.

150 media inquiries were addressed throughout the year. The WTA communications committee and our DMO partners responded to these inquiries and provided great stories to the media.

20 WTA presentations about our long term funding proposal and 2015 legislation were made throughout the state at regional outreach and industry stakeholder meetings.

12 monthly E-Newsletters were sent to 5,200 member and industry stakeholders each month.

3 travel industry trade shows attended.  WTA representatives met with international and national tour operators at the International Tourism Marketing Go West Summit in Tacoma, Washington in February and the U.S. Travel Association’s 46th annual IPW international marketplace in April in Chicago. WTA members also attended the NTA (National Tour Association) Travel Exchange in Los Angeles in February.

1 piece of legislation passed during the 2014 session. The bill, SHB2229, continued our efforts to secure industry funding for our statewide tourism marketing and promotion program.

report delivered to the Washington State Legislature. As required in the legislation passed during the 2014 session, the WTA delivered our report, “Creating Stable Long-Term Funding for a Statewide Tourism Marketing Program” to the legislature on December 1st. The report proposes a long-term, significant source of funding, raised solely from the private businesses benefiting from tourism, with funds used to implement a self-sustaining statewide tourism marketing program.

WTA LEGISLATIVE REPORT
Becky Bogard  

The path to passage of legislation to create a fund for marketing the state to tourists began in earnest on February 9. The House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs (CDHTA) Committee held a hearing on HB 1938, legislation drafted by the Washington Tourism Alliance. The legislation was sponsored by Representatives Sherry Appleton (D., Poulsbo) and Norm Johnson (R., Yakima) and several others.

Andy Olsen, chair of WTA’s Long Term Funding Committee, spoke in support of the bill as did Becky Bogard, WTA’s Government Relations Consultant. Monique Trudnowski, one of WTA’s founding members and a restauranteur, spoke in support of the legislationas well. WTA representatives made it clear that without this legislation there will likely be no tourismmarketing program after June 30, 2015. It was also noted that the legislation continues to need work to ensure that the fee collection system works.

Washington Restaurant Association’s Julia Gorton noted WRA’s support for the bill. There were other representatives from ports, outdoor recreation organizations, fairs, and other tourism interests who spoke in support. No one opposed the bill.

On Tuesday, February 17, the House CDHTA Committee took executive action on a slightly amended version of HB 1938. The members voted 6-1 to move the bill out of committee. The amended version of the legislation contains no major changes but merely some clarification of language in the original bill.

On the Senate side, the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee held a hearing on a proposed substitute to SB 5916, the Senate version of the WTA bill. The substitute was identical to the bill acted on by the House committee. It is sponsored by Senators Sharon Brown (R., Kennewick), Maralyn Chase (D., Shoreline) and others.

Kris Watkins, president and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities and a WTA board member, testified in support of the legislation. Andy Olsen and Becky Bogard also testified for WTA in support of the bill. George Sharp, head of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau, also testified in support of the legislation as did Doug Levy, representing the outdoor recreation industry. Mark Johnson, vice president of government affairs for the Washington Retail Association, testified that the association was taking a neutral position on the legislation. Several other industry partners and WTA Executive Director Louise Stanton-Masten, signed in as supporting the legislation.

Some senators expressed concern about additional fees on small businesses.  WTA representatives explained how the fees were calculated to take into account the size of businesses, the contribution such businesses make to tourism, and the exclusion of the assessment on the smallest businesses in some sectors.

The Senate committee acted to move the substitute bill out of committee and to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

In summary, the tourism bills have met first deadline to pass out of substantive committees in their house of origin. The bills must now pass out of fiscal committees (Ways and Means, Finance or Appropriations) by Friday, February 27 unless the bills are deemed necessary to implement the budget.

Watch for WTA Alerts asking you to contact committee members to make sure the bill keeps moving!

TOURISM SUMMIT IN OLYMPIA SHOWS WHY TOURISM MATTERS 
Christina Pivarnik 

On February 12th, nearly 170 tourism professionals from across the state gathered in Olympia for the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA)’s 5th Annual Tourism Summit to garner support from our legislators for HB 1938/SB 5916. This is legislation being proposed by the WTA for an industry funded and industry implemented statewide tourism marketing program to bring more visitors to Washington.

Over the past four years, WTA has been working diligently to develop a plan for an industry funded program. The Tourism Summit in Olympia outlined the legislation, building momentum from previous years to bring us to a place where a solution is being proposed for long-term funding for tourism marketing.

To add inspiration to the day, two prestigious speakers joined the Summit to offer their support and perspective. The opening keynote was Chris Thompson, President and CEO from Brand USA, based in Washington, DC. He spoke about the Power of Partnerships and voiced encouragement for the work WTA is doing.

The closing keynote was Todd Davidson, CEO from Travel Oregon. He recounted the day our state closed its tourism office doors telling us the media flooded him with calls asking if he “was dancing in the streets.” Quite the contrary he told us. Our lack of funding for marketing left a gaping hole. Visitors come to the Pacific Northwest first and when we have a partnership between our two states, we’re that much more effective in luring national and international visitors to the NW.

Following the morning session, we headed to “the hill” to meet with our legislators. In our debrief meeting late in the afternoon, we heard that the legislators were mostly in support of HB 1938/SB 5916, especially since the plan requires no investment of state general funds. There is still much work to do, but we’re headed in a good direction.

Capping off the day, Governor and Mrs. Inslee joined us for a surprise appearance at our reception in the Governor’s Mansion, voicing support for tourism.

February

 
WTA WELCOMES NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEMBERS
Louise Stanton-Masten 

The WTA is pleased to welcome six new members who were appointed to the WTA Board of Directors for terms beginning in 2015. We extend a warm welcome to each of them. They are:

  • Wendy Becker, Cultural and Economic Development Manager, Snohomish County, at-large representative
  • Marc Berejka, Director of Government and Community Affairs, REI, representing the retail sector
  • Bennish Brown, President & CEO, Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, South Puget Sound regional representative
  • Ron Peck, Executive Director, Tourism Walla Walla, Southeast regional representative
  • Shiloh Schauer, Executive Director, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, representing economic development organizations
  • Kris Watkins, President & CEO, Visit Tri-Cities, at-large representative

We also offer our sincere thanks to Diane Schostak who retired as Executive Director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau and resigned from the WTA Board in 2014. Diane had served the WTA as Olympic Peninsula regional representative since 2011 and was one of the original members of the WTA Board.

The WTA Board of Directors was introduced during the Annual Tourism Summit in Olympia this month. We thank each of them for their leadership and willingness to serve the WTA. Click HERE to go to the WTA website and view a full list of WTA Board members.

EXPERIENCEWA PROGRAMS OFFER PROVEN RESULTS
Lisa Schwartz
In 2014 ExperienceWA.com continued to show steady year-over-year growth. Our website reached new milestones with a 26.12% increase in user sessions from 2013 through 2014, which brought the annual site visitation to 582,000 last year!  With over 1.7 million page-views, the page-views have grown over 11%!

What’s more – in the first month of 2015, site visitation has increased by 50.1% from January of 2014, and page- views are up by 28.4% – getting 2015 off to an even greater start!

The ExperienceWA email marketing program now reaches almost 18,000 opt-in subscribers monthly, and this program generates an industry high open rate averaging 52%, with a click-thru rate averaging 3.91%!

Take advantage of these targeted, affordable, powerful marketing tools designed to bring your share of the Washington State visitor market.

For our new media kit with rates and detailed information on each program offered on ExperienceWA.com, click HERE or contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com , 425-444-0589, or contact Lisa Schwartz at a lisa.schwartz@milespartnership.com, 206-679-1930.

YAKIMA VALLEY TOURISM AWARDED 2015 TOURISM CHAMPION OF THE YEAR BY WASHINGTON STATE WINE COMMISSION

The Washington State Wine Commission awarded Yakima Valley Tourism the 2015 Tourism Champion of the Year at the Washington State Wine Awards in Seattle Monday January 26th.

“We are honored to be recognized as Tourism Champion of the Year,” said John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “The team at Yakima Valley Tourism works hard to elevate wine tourism for the Yakima Valley and to champion our exceptional wine industry.”

Started in 2002, the awards recognize industry leaders that exhibit strong support of Washington wines and high professional standards in wine service and promotion. According to the commission, the Washington State Restaurant, Retailer and Tourism Champion of the Year are the most prestigious awards, recognizing industry leaders who show the strongest support for Washington State wine. More than 130 nominations were received for the 2015 awards.

“The winners of the Washington State Wine Awards perform a vital role in shaping Washington State as both a favored destination and a favored home for those who enjoy premium wines with superior quality,” said Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine

The 15 businesses and individuals recognized as leaders by the Washington State Wine Awards will be featured in a full-page ad in eight key publications and media outlets: Food & Wine,Travel &Leisure, Town & Country, Seattle Met, Elle Décor, Real Simple, Sip NorthwestSeattleTimes.com as well as the 2015 Washington State Wine Tour Guide.

Yakima Valley Tourism is the official destination marketing organization for Yakima and the Yakima Valley. A non-profit organization, the mission of Yakima Valley Tourism is to stimulate economic development by marketing the Yakima Valley for conventions, groups and leisure travel.

Washington State Wine (also known as the Washington State Wine Commission) represents every licensed winery and wine grape grower in Washington State. Guided by an appointed board, the commission provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness of the Washington State wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines.

 

WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS   

PLANS FOR AERIAL TRAM IN PORT ANGELES STILL ON TRACK

SPOKANE TRANSFORMED INTO A WORLD-CLASS MEETING DESTINATION

WESTPORT WINERY WINS GOLD IN SAN FRANCISCO

VOTE FRIDAY HARBOR OR GIG HARBOR BEST COASTAL SMALL TOWN

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 MEMBERS