WTA Names David Blandford as Interim Executive Director

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) announced the appointment of David Blandford as its Interim Executive Director, effective May 4, 2020. Blandford will lead the organization’s marketing activities in addition to a growing range of initiatives related to COVID-19, including tourism industry recovery and crisis communications.

“David has in-depth knowledge of Washington tourism, the current challenges we face, an optimistic, pragmatic view for the future, and excellent relationships with our stakeholders here in the state as well as across the country and internationally,” said Shiloh Burgess, WTA Chair. “He is the ideal person to take the helm for the WTA at this time, having served on our Board of Directors since 2012 and as Co-Chair since 2018.” He joins veteran WTA staff members Mike Moe, Managing Director, and Diana Thibado, Director of Operations. The team of three will lead WTA marketing and operations with a concerted emphasis in COVID-19 tourism industry recovery and business mitigation.

“We’ve had the opportunity to closely work with David as Co-Chair over the past two years,” said Moe. “We’re excited about the continuity of his leadership and the future of the WTA.” Blandford was part of the industry group that fought to preserve state tourism office funding in 2009-2010 and inaugurated the Washington Tourism Alliance to re-establish tourism funding after the tourism office closed in 2011. 

A 30-year veteran of the tourism industry, Blandford brings extensive marketing, communications and public affairs experience at the local, state and national travel and tourism industry levels. He began his industry career running press trips across Washington State as part of a contract with the state tourism office. In his tenure with the Seattle News Bureau and Visit Seattle, Blandford worked extensively with the state tourism office and the private sector industry to promote Washington State and its various destinations in both domestic and international markets. 

He most recently served as Senior Vice President, Public Affairs at Visit Seattle, 2017-2020. He previously held several other positions with the organization including Vice President, Communications and Director of Public Relations. During his tenure, he gained extensive experience with destination marketing, brand development, destination research, consumer and industry social media, web site development, blog creation and management and photography and video production. 

Blandford led PR missions in European and Asian tourism markets and worked in tandem with a broader travel trade team in the city, state and with partnering states. He wrote Visit Seattle’s crisis communications plan and managed events and business recovery initiatives related to WTO, the Nisqually earthquake, 9/11 and the 2008 recession. 

He is a long-time member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Communications Committee, actively supporting and defending the national travel and tourism industry through policy, public affairs and communications. Blandford is a current member of Destination International’s Advocacy Committee and a 20-year member of the Society of American Travel Writers and Public Relations Society of American, serving in various leadership roles with both associations. 

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Blandford. “This industry needs support, and we’ll need to find new ways to promote and sustain travel during the ongoing COVID-19 issue. I’m committed to both, and to working with our industry partners.”

The Washington Tourism Alliance Launches showWAlove.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2020

Media Contact:
Christina Pivarnik
(360) 531-0127/christina@pivarnik.com

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) today launched showWAlove.com, a new online program to help support local Washington businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Data from national tourism research firm Tourism Economics estimates that 4.6 million U.S. travel industry jobs may be lost by May 31 – roughly 40 percent of all tourism-related jobs. That constitutes more than 75,000 jobs in Washington State and means local restaurants, hotels, attractions, tour operators, and destination marketing organizations will bear the brunt of these losses.

Buy Now. Play Later.

While social distancing restrictions are in effect, the showWAlove.com offers a platform for Washingtonians to help hard-working business owners and employees. People can support their favorite local businesses by purchasing gift cards for future use. They can search for restaurants, lodgings and retail establishments by region or type of business and then connect with that business to buy gift cards.  

Business Assistance

Hundreds of businesses have gift card offers on showWAlove.com and inventory continues to grow. Businesses that don’t currently offer gift cards will be able to learn how to expand their online presence on the showWAlove.com website through webinars and additional resources. The WTA is committed to helping the small businesses in Washington use every tool available to get through this uncertain time.

“Recovery has to begin now,” said David Blandford, WTA Co-Chair. “This is just one initial measure of support and others will follow. We hope this program can help stabilize businesses and preserve jobs. Together we can show Washington’s tourism industry love during this unprecedented crisis.”

About the Washington Tourism Alliance

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) is a 501[c]6 organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission to develop and sustain Washington State destination tourism marketing. The WTA procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements a strategic statewide destination marketing plan. www.watourismalliance.com

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Business Resources COVID-19 3/12/20

The Washington Tourism Alliance continues to monitor the impacts of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and is actively communicating and coordinating with Washington State Department of Commerce, Port of Seattle, Visit Seattle and other partners.  We will continue to work with  Washington’s tourism industry during this challenging time, and will work with Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Commerce to support community mitigation efforts in our state and bolster business recovery efforts for tourism businesses. Below are some resources and ways that you can assist the industry response.  

Consumer Travel Advisory

Feel free to refer visitors to a Covid-19 travel advisory we’ve posted on WTA’s consumer travel web site.  This advisory is updated daily. 

Travel Industry Messages

Travel industry organizations urge fact-based decision–making

U.S. Travel Association Covid-19 Tool Kit and Messages

Resources for Washington State Businesses

General COVID-19 Information

How You Can HelpWTA is monitoring and reporting Covid-19 impact to the tourism industry. Please let the WTA know if the following happens in your community:

  • Closure of tourism-related businesses
  • Cancellation of events
  • Other major disruptions of business

Please email mike@watourismalliance.com with this information or any questions

Postponed: 2020 Industry Summit and Economic Outlook event

Unfortunately, the WTA, along with our partner Central Washington University, has determined it prudent to postpone the 2020 Industry Summit and Economic Outlook that was scheduled to take place on April 3rd, 2020 in Wenatchee. Due to public health concerns surrounding the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on small and large tourism businesses, we are exploring all options to hold the event at a later date. We made this decision out of an abundance of caution, hoping to minimize travel and personal interactions for speakers and attendees in order to best protect the health of those who planned to attend.

Those of you who paid online should have already received a full refund and those who sent checks will be refunded shortly. Any plans to reschedule will be announced as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding. 

Please click here to find industry resources related to COVID-19.