COVID-19 Webinar 5-1-20

On 5/1/20 the WTA hosted a webinar around the response to the Covid-19. Over 300 tourism professionals from all over Washington State participated.

The webinar featured the new Interim Executive Director, David Blandford who discussed tourism spending trends. David was joined by 3 industry experts

Jon Snyder – Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor, Outdoor Recreation & Economic Development. Jon gave an update on the Governor’s most recent order and what it means for the tourism industry in Washington.

Chris Green – Assistant Director, Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness. Chris outlined the resources available to tourism-related businesses in Washington.

Anthony Anton – CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association
Anthony previewed guidelines that are being developed for the hospitality industry to safely and responsibly reopen their doors to tourists.

To view a recording of the webinar, click here.

Covid-19: Business Resources 4-28-20

Dear Partners:

The tourism industry in Washington and throughout the world is facing an unprecedented crisis. While we’re hopeful that our state can slowly begin to open in May, but the return to normalcy will be counted in years rather than months. The WTA remains committed to doing everything possible to keep our partners and industry stakeholders connected to the resources they need to navigate this crisis. We are continuing to work with industry leaders to remind legislators about the importance of tourism to our economy and to craft guidelines to safely reopen tourism-related businesses in our state.

Here is an updated list of links to help you find the resources you need:

Federal Resources CARES Act: This toolkit provided by US Travel helps tourism-related businesses and organizations navigate the full CARES Act. US Travel also has provided a helpful FAQ about the CARES Act.

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Congressional leaders and the administration forged an agreement to supplement the program. The $481 billion agreement provides an additional $321 billion for the PPP, $60 billion for the EIDL program, $75 billion for healthcare providers and $25 billion to expand testing capacity (including $11 billion for states to increase testing).
  • SBA Debt Relief: The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. This covers all principal, interest and fees on current and new SBA 7(a) loans made through September 27, 2020 for up to six months.
  • Express Bridge Loan: The SBA’s Express Bridge Loan allows small businesses that have an existing business relationship with a participating lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.

Small Business Development Centers: These centers will help you navigate available SBA loans and provide you with no-cost business consulting.
Export Credit Insurance: This program protects you in case your customers overseas are slow on paying receivables or go out of business. It allows you to commit to export sales without fear of loss during the pandemic.


State Resources

  • On 4/27 Governor Inslee announced easing of outdoor restrictions.
  • The Department of Commerce has created a list of COVID-19 Business Resources.
  • Small Business Resiliency Assistance: offering technical assistance for small business owners from culturally and historically disadvantaged communities.
  • Small Business COVID-19 Back-to-Work Planner: (Part 1) is designed to help plan the steps necessary to open your business once the state says it’s safe to do so.
  • Humanities Washington Grant: Humanities Washington is honored to provide rapid-response funding to humanities and cultural non-profit organizations in Washington State facing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus. Funding for this grant is provided by the CARES Act and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  •  Washington Hospitality Association: A coronavirus resource guide for the restaurant and lodging industry.

If you have questions or other resources, please don’t hesitate to communicate with us. Contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com.

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.”

WTA Member Email 4/20/20

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, our industry has been severely impacted. Through our research, we know that visitation to Washington is down over 70% and this doesn’t include the loss of business from our in-state customers.  And we’ve heard from so many of you and understand the significant challenges you face.

For many years, the WTA has relied on our amazing members for support and we can’t thank you enough. As a token of our appreciation, we would like to offer those who have paid their 2020 membership dues a credit for advertising on ExperienceWA for the dollar total of your membership. This credit can be used at any time in 2020 or 2021. Contact me at mailto:mike@watourismalliance.com or at 425-444-0589 to learn more. For those who have not paid for membership this year, we completely understand that you need to prioritize your business and employees during this crisis. We will extend your membership through the rest of 2020.

Additionally, the WTA will continue to provide the most up-to-date information on how businesses can utilize federal and state resources to stay afloat during this crisis. Make sure to regularly check our industry website, watourismalliance.com for the most current information. In the meantime, we would like to give you an update on what the WTA is actively working on to provide support to our members and industry stakeholders.

The WTA recently launched a new website called showWAlove.com that gives Washingtonians a chance to support their local tourism-related businesses by purchasing gift cards now for later use. This project is completely free for businesses and users and so far close to 1000 businesses have been listed. If you offer an online gift card and would like to set up a free listing, just go to showWAlove.com and click on Post a Listing or click here. It only takes 2 minutes. If you don’t have an online gift card option, but want one, click here to quickly and easily make one.

Please continue to communicate with the WTA and your regional DMO partners. Our industry has never faced a challenge like this, but if we work together and use our collective ingenuity, we will come out of this stronger than ever before.

Covid-19: Utilizing the US CARES Act

3/31/20

Dear Partner, 

On March 27th, the President signed into law the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (the CARES Act), the largest economic relief act in our country’s history. The tourism industry in Washington has been devastated by this crisis, but tourism-related businesses can find relief through new or strengthened existing federal programs as a result of this legislation.

Click here for a helpful guide to relief is available to different types of businesses or organizations.

Click here for an explanation of the Small Business Administration Coronavirus Economic Injury Disaster Loans. *Grants of up to $10,000 is available within three days, regardless of approval: A cash advance (grant) of the loan, up to $10,000, can be provided to the borrower upon request. SBA is required to provide the grant within three days of receiving the loan application. The grant is provided regardless of whether the borrower is ultimately approved for the loan and does not have to be repaid. 

Click here to learn about Small Business Express Loans. These are for small businesses who need quick a one-time loan for a major expense. Example: A restaurant needs to replace a walk-in refrigerator. 

Click here for a guide on the Emergency Stabilization Fund. 

Click here to learn about Economic Relief for Airports and Tourism, including Community Development Block Grants.

Here is more information on Business Tax Provisions including payroll tax deferral. Click here for more information.

It is expected that the U.S. Treasury, Small Business Association and other agencies will need some time to fully implement these resources and application features, though it is hoped that most will be operational in the next two weeks.

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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COVID-19: GOVERNOR ORDERS STAY HOME, STAY HEALTHY ORDER

Dear Partner, On Sunday March 22, Governor Inslee issued a Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation. The order takes effect immediately and will remain in place for a minimum of two weeks.
This proclamation will:

  • Require every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity
  • Ban all public and private gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes
  • Close all businesses except essential businesses

The order states that Washingtonians can still participate in outdoor activities like bike rides, hikes, and working in their yard, as long as they maintain proper social distancing or at least six feet from each other. Essential businesses will remain open including grocery stores and pharmacies. Many tourism-related businesses were also deemed essential including hotels, rental car companies and many transportation organizations, as well as restaurant take-out and curbside services.
By this evening, March 25, all non-essential businesses must close. Teleworking from home is still allowed. Businesses can visit the Washington State Business Re-Entry Registration website to clarify or certify status, or to petition their non-essential status. They would still need to implement social distancing rules of at least six feet. Read more about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation.

Business Resources – Covid-19 3/20/20

The impact of the coronavirus is starting to become clearer and the results for our industry are grim. The closure of restaurants, attractions and entertainment venues mean that small business owners all over our state are going to have to do what they can to weather the storm. In the meantime, the WTA will do everything we can to our businesses survive this upheaval and then thrive when the time comes to reignite our industry.

As you know, the travel and tourism industry has been hit disproportionately hard in this crisis. It’s important to document the losses so we’re able to present a full picture to legislators and members of congress when they begin to allocate resources. Please take 5 minutes to fill out the following surveys:

WTA Survey – All answers will remain confidential.

US Travel Survey which includes an easy communication to your members of congress

Washington State is starting to mobilize to help small business owners get through this trying time. Please click here for Employment Security Department resources including:

Click here for resources from the Association of Washington Businesses, including information about a business impact webinar on March 23rd.

Click here for resources from Governor Inslee which includes disaster loan information and employer and worker assistance.

In the coming days, please look for a new project from the WTA to help Washingtonians show their love for their favorite tourism-related businesses.

If we work together our industry will get through this crisis and come out of it stronger than ever before.

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.