Travel Advisory: Washington Wildfires

Updated: August 23, 2018

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

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

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

Travel Resources:

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

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

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

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

JULY 2018 NEWSLETTER

GOVERNOR INSLEE ANNOUNCES MARKETING AUTHORITY MEMBERS  

Mike Moe, Managing Director   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WTA UPDATE

Mike Moe, Managing Director

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

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

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

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

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

WTA THANKS DEPARTING BOARD MEMBERS
Diana Thibado, Director of Operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

The WTA thanks you all for your years of service!

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

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

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

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

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

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES

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

 

WTA THANKS MARCH, APRIL, MAY AND JUNE MEMBERS

NEW MEMBERS
Heritage Distilling

RENEWING MEMBERS

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


If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Managing Director Mike Moe or join today online here.

March WTA Newsletter – Governor Inslee Signs Tourism Bill!

WTA Update

Today at 2:37pm, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5251 into law. This moment is the result of seven years of hard work and tenacity by the tourism industry in Washington State.  Even when faced with immense obstacles, our WTA board members, legislative team, supporters and advocates never wavered in their determination to make this happen. We cannot thank you enough for your support!

With a marketing plan in hand and a bill now signed, our real task has just begun. However, to make our marketing plan a reality, there are still steps to be taken before we can begin. As you’ll read in the article below, the process for selecting the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA) will take place over the next couple of months. Once the WTMA is established, the industry will need to provide two dollars for every dollar of state funding. While the WTMA will determine the different ways match funding can be raised, membership will remain an important way to support the WTA.

In this new chapter, we must continue to build upon our strong partnerships.  The challenge to reestablish a statewide tourism effort inspired the industry to come together in a way it never has before. Every sector of our industry, from every region of our state has worked together over the past seven years, and we will continue to count on that unity moving forward. We are excited for what’s to come and look forward to working together to build a marketing program that will make Washington proud!

IT’S DONE…BUT IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING!

Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick 

On March 5, the final step in legislative approval of the statewide tourism marketing bill took place when the Senate concurred by a unanimous vote in the House changes to E4SSB 5251. At that point the bill was on its way to the governor’s desk and Governor Inslee signed the bill yesterday.

The governor also signed the supplemental appropriations bill yesterday. That bill has $1.5 million for FY 2019 to implement the new tourism marketing law.

The tourism legislation had wide legislative support. In its final form, it passed both houses unanimously. We have many legislative leaders to recognize but really all legislators deserve thanks for working with us on this journey to get a new statewide tourism marketing
program established. Some deserve special recognition.
Here are just a few of the Senators who played a particularly important role:

  • Sen. Dean Takko (D., Longview) – a member of the work group that help write the legislation and the prime sponsor of the bill that passed
  • Sen. Christine Rolfes (D., Bainbridge Island) – a member of the work group, co-sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee which included funding in the 2019 supplemental budget to implement the legislation
  • Sen. Sharon Brown (R., Tri-Cities) – a member of the work group and supporter of the 2018 funding and getting the bill passed
  • Sen. Maralyn Chase (D., Shoreline) – chair of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee and co-sponsor of the bill
  • Sen. Judy Warnick (R., Moses Lake) – former chair of the Senate Trade and Economic Development and co-sponsor of the bill

For the House, here are a few representatives who played a visable and vocal role:

  • Rep. Cindy Ryu (D., Shoreline) – a member of the work group, co-sponsor of the House bill and chair of the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Cary Condotta (R., Wenatchee) – prime sponsor of the House version of the bill and member of the work group
  • Rep. Gael Tarleton (D., Seattle) – a member of the work group and staunch advocate for the bill
  • Rep. Andrew Barkis (R., Lacey) – co-sponsor of the House bill, a member of the work group and ranking member of the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Gina McCabe (R., Goldendale) – a hotelier and vocal advocate for the legislation, who helped her colleagues understand the importance of tourism
  • Rep. Mike Chapman (D., Port Angeles) – advocate for the legislation because of its impact on rural areas

Again, all legislators deserve thanks. These are just a few who played a special role!

On behalf of my legislative team, I want to thank all of you who helped get this passed. Each of you played a critical role. You came to testify, you wrote letters when we needed them, you called your legislators and you came to tourism day. We could not have done it without you!

So now the real work begins! Under the process established in the new law, the first thing that needs to happen is for the governor to appoint the members of the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA) by July 1. He will be making nine appointments to the WTMA board, primarily from lists provided to him by the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor. These appointments are supposed to be from the tourism industry and must include at least one each from the following sectors: lodging, restaurants, rental cars, outdoor recreation, retail and attractions.

If you are interested in being on the WTMA board, you must submit an application to either the speaker of the house, the lieutenant governor or both. These offices have until May 1 to put together their lists. The offices have indicated that they would like to have information from interested parties by April 20. WTA will be providing more specific contact information in the next week. If you are interested in being on the WTMA board, you cannot be on the board of an organization that might be the contractor for implementing the statewide marketing program.

Once the WTMA board is appointed, they will need to meet and organize for moving forward. Among other things, the board will be tasked with contracting with an entity that will implement a statewide tourism marketing program and determining what constitutes a match. Remember that state general funds have to be matched on a 2:1 basis.

Once the contractor is selected the WTMA will be responsible for making certain that the new marketing efforts reflect the priorities in the law. And, of course, there will be the job of making certain there are matching funds and in-kind contributions to make the program a success.

You have all been helpful with our efforts to date. We look forward to working with you as the program becomes an actuality!

WTA THANKS BOARD MEMBER KRIS WATKINS

Diana Thibado, Director of Operations

The WTA would like to sincerely thank Kris Watkins for her dedicated service to both the Washington Tourism Alliance and Washington State tourism. Kris will retire on April 6th after leading Visit Tri-Cities as President and CEO for more than two decades.

Kris joined the WTA board in 2015 and served as a passionate advocate for statewide tourism funding during that time.  We sincerely appreciate everything she’s done to support tourism throughout her career and especially her strong advocacy during the critical legislative process over the past 3 years. Kris wanted to share the following words with her industry colleagues:

My career in the tourism industry has been an adventure, an education and an exciting experience all rolled into one. And one of the greatest honors of my career was serving on the WTA Board.

The timing of my retirement is somewhat bittersweet because we are on the cusp of creating tourism greatness. I am thrilled with the passage of tourism funding bill. It is vitally important to have an appropriately funded state tourism program, and the bill before the Governor is a great first step to creating a strong WTA. I am excited to see what will be accomplished as more tourism jobs are created and tourism continues to flourish in cities and counties throughout Washington State.

However, as I look back, one of the greatest treasures of my career is the relationship I have built with you, my tourism colleagues. I have made so many wonderful lifetime friends in the tourism industry, and for that, I am very grateful.

Thank you for 24 wonderful years in tourism.

We wish Kris nothing but the best in her retirement!

YAKIMA CENTRAL PLAZA MOVES FORWARD

The Yakima Central Plaza Steering Committee successfully completed a campaign that raised $9.6 million from nearly 500 donors for the City of Yakima to build a new gathering space in Downtown Yakima. Slated to open in late 2019, the Yakima Central Plaza will be a three-acre open space. The park like square will have many features including a shaded grove with seating, running water channels, water jets for children and various structures.

John Cooper, CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism and a board member of the Washington Tourism Alliance, was on the committee of community leaders that raised the funds. Yakima Valley Tourism’s non-profit foundation was also a conduit for many of the donations. “The plaza will be a major catalyst for the positive development of downtown Yakima” stated Cooper. “Not only will it be a gathering place for the residents, it will be a draw for groups and visitors.” The plaza is designed by renowned landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson, a Yakima native who designed the Princess Diana Memorial in London and the grounds for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the project visit  www.yakimacentralplaza.com.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

WASHINGTON STATE’S NEWEST DRIVE TOUR: THE SOUTH CASCADES LOOP

VISIT TRI-CITIES ANNOUNCES NEW CEO

SEATTLE SOUTHSIDE HOSTS TOURISM SYMPOSIUM MARCH 29TH

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES

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

WTA THANKS DECEMBER, JANUARY, AND FEBRUARY MEMBERS

NEW MEMBERS

Global Yodel, Vance Creek Railriders, Visit Kent

RENEWING MEMBERS

Campbell’s Resort, Cascade Loop, Chateau Ste Michelle, City of Edmonds, City of Gig Harbor, Discover Lewis County, Explore Port Orchard, Food Services of America, Grays Harbor County, Hilton Garden Inn – Yakima, Hilton Vancouver Washington, Holiday Inn Express – Puyallup, Jefferson County Tourism, Munchen Haus Bavarian Grill and Beer Garden, Olympic Peninsula Gateway Visitor Center, Prosser Chamber of Commerce, Puget Sound Express, R. C. Hedreen Co, REI Seattle, River Park Square, San Juan Cruises, San Juan Island Outfitters, San Juan Safaris, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Southside, Smith Tower, Space Needle, Spokane Public Facilities District, Swinomish Casino & Lodge, The Embassy Suites – Sea-Tac, Three Rivers Convention Center, Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, Visit Spokane, Washington Bed and Breakfast Guild

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Managing Director Mike Moe or join today online here.

WTA Tourism Bill Passes through the Legislature

Thanks to your advocacy efforts the statewide tourism marketing legislation- Engrossed 4th Substitute Senate Bill 5251- passed the House UNANIMOUSLY, after being voted out of the full Senate UNANIMOUSLY last month. This day would not be possible without the hard work and support of so many over the last 7 years. We want to thank our legislative team, the Washington Hospitality Association, all the other industry groups in Washington who helped advocate for our bill and most importantly, YOU for getting us over the finish line this session!

The final steps will include going back to the Senate for concurrence, inclusion in the supplemental operating budget, and Governor Inslee’s signature. We have one last ask of you.  Please make sure you send a note to your legislators thanking them for their support! All House and Senate members voted in support of the bill!

Please look for more information in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, let’s all celebrate how far we’ve come and the exciting future of tourism in Washington state!