Mike Moe, Managing Director
In November, the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA), along with the Department of Commerce (Commerce), entered into an agreement with GreenRubino to create a marketing plan for tourism in Washington State. After six years of hard work by our board of directors, staff, and volunteers all over the state, we are very excited to take this next step in our mission to finally reestablish a statewide tourism marketing effort. In the 2018 legislative session, we will still count on you, our partners and industry stakeholders, to spread the message and support the WTA, but we will have a new story to tell and a new vision to share.
Last summer, the legislature passed an operating budget that included a proviso with funding to build the marketing plan. The bill allocated the dollars to Commerce “solely for the department to formulate a statewide tourism marketing plan in collaboration with a nonprofit statewide tourism organization as provided in Substitute Senate Bill No. 5251.” The WTA worked with Commerce to draft an RFP that was dispersed in early October. There were eleven responses to the RFP, which were graded in accordance with strict state standards by a committee comprised of WTA board members and Commerce staff. The proposal from GreenRubino was the successful bid.
Before the ink was dry on the contract, GreenRubino hit the ground running. They met with the WTA and WSDMO boards to hear feedback and are already in the process of conducting several surveys to assess the current state of the tourism industry in Washington. The goal of this process isn’t to come up with a new brand or a catchy slogan, but to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the industry in our state and to fully understand how a statewide organization can best work with existing regional destination marketing organizations, local associations, government entities, and most importantly tourism-related businesses. We’re developing a road map, so our statewide tourism marketing organization will know exactly where to go when the legislature passes our bill in 2018.
NOVEMBER ELECTIONS AND TOURISM GOING FORWARD
Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick
2017 Elections. The results of the November 2017 elections brought a shift of power to the Washington State Legislature. With the decisive win of now Sen. Manka Dhingra, the Democrat running to replace the late Sen. Andy Hill, control of the Senate shifted to the Democrats. Now the Senate, the House and the governor’s office are controlled by one party, the Democrats.
In the Senate, this means that all the committee chairs have changed. Sen. Christine Rolfes (D., Bainbridge Island) is now chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the budget writing committee. Sen. Rolfes is very familiar with tourism; she served on the interim work group in 2016 that crafted the legislation intended to establish and fund a new statewide tourism marketing program. Sen. Maralyn Chase (D., Shoreline) is chair of the Economic Development and Trade Committee, the substantive committee that oversees tourism issues. Sen. Chase was a co-sponsor of SB 5251, the legislation that grew out of the 2016 working group.
However, tourism is not really a partisan issue. We have support for the WTA legislation from both sides of the aisle. Key members like Sen. Sharon Brown (R., Richland) and Sen. Judy Warnick (R., Moses Lake) will still be critical to the success of our efforts. Similarly, in the House, Rep. Cary Condotta (R., Chelan), Rep. Andrew Barkis (R., Olympia) and Rep. Gina McCabe (R., Goldendale) will continue to be important in securing support in the House. House Democrat members who have been critical to our success include Rep. Cindy Ryu (D., Shoreline), Rep. Gael Tarleton (D., Seattle) and Rep. Nicole Macri (D., Seattle).
Status of Tourism Legislation. Both HB 1123 and SB 5251 are still alive. The “life” of a bill is two legislative sessions. Since this proposal was introduced in the 2017 legislature, it is alive for the 2018 legislature.
In the House, SHB 1123 remains in the House Appropriations Committee. The legislation had a hearing, but the committee did not take action before the legislature adjourned last July. In the Senate, 2SSB 5251 is in the Senate Rules Committee. It passed out of both the Senate Economic Development and Trade Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee. As the session was adjourning, WTA was working with sponsors to try to get some agreed to language about funding.
Marketing Plan. In the meantime, the legislature did approve $500,000 in the 2017-19 biennial budget for the Department of Commerce (Commerce) to work with WTA to put together a draft statewide tourism marketing plan as required in 2SSB5251. Although the latter legislation did not pass, Commerce has worked with WTA to ensure that the marketing plan follows the substance of 2SSB 5251. Please see Managing Director Mike Moe’s article for more details about the work on the marketing plan.
It is anticipated that the statewide tourism marketing plan will be in a form that can be used to show legislators the benefits of passing legislation that will enable the plan to be implemented.
Going Forward in the 2018 Session. WTA is currently working with lead legislators to get an agreement on language for 2SSB 5251 and SHB 1123, particularly regarding state funding and the match. Additionally, there are technical amendments which must be made to update the bill. Most of these relate to dates which are deadlines for certain things to occur. WTA is also working with key members of the fiscal committees, particularly the Senate Ways and Means Committee, to get funding for the second year of the biennium in the supplemental budget.
In summary, WTA has two “asks” for this session. First, we want the bill providing the mechanism for tourism funding passed and signed by Governor Inslee. (This is either SHB 1123 or 2SSB 5251.) Second, we need funding in the supplemental operating budget so that the implementation of the marketing plan can move forward.
Please come to Olympia on January 29-30 to meet with your legislators to ensure they will support our requests!
2018 WASHINGTON TOURISM RALLY INFORMATION
Diana Thibado, Director of Operations
RSVP now for the 2018 Washington Tourism Rally! Our annual event takes on a new look as we celebrate the successes of the past year and meet with legislators to build on the progress made during the last legislative session. There is no cost to attend this rally, but we need to get your RSVP by December 22nd so we can secure appointments with your legislators.
The rally will kick off with a reception hosted by the Washington Hospitality Association at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia on the evening of January 29th, 2018. The next morning, January 30th, we will gather at the United Churches of Olympia for a legislative briefing, and review talking points and handouts for your legislative meetings. A formal schedule of the day and other information will be circulated in early January.
Hotel block information will be available soon. Please click here to RSVP by December 22nd to ensure you get the most up to date information about the rally.
EXPERIENCEWA.COM DEALS AND NEWSLETTER COMBO
Mike Moe, Managing Director
Does your business have a great winter deal ready to be offered to shoulder-season travelers? Connect with people who are planning a trip in Washington on the ExperienceWA.com Deals Page and through the ExperienceWA eNewsletter!
Now is the time to double up and place your best offers on both ExperienceWA.com – and its opt-in monthly eNewsletter.
ExperienceWA reaches Washington-bound travelers who are looking for deals and information to plan their best vacation. Place your offer on ExperienceWA.com for three months and add that deal for one month on the e-Newsletter for the low combo rate of only $550!
Here’s what you’ll receive:
* 3 months placement in the deals vault on ExperienceWA.com
* 1 month placement in the Deals and Events section of the monthly ExperienceWA eNewsletter
This deal is only good if booked in December, so contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance or call him at 425-444-0589 today!
MEMBERS IN THE NEWS
SKAMANIA LODGE UNVEILS NEW OUTDOOR AERIAL PARK
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
WTA THANKS AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, AND NOVEMBER MEMBERS
, American Hertiage Railways
, Auburn Tourism Board
, Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce
, Bainbridge Island Downtown Association
, Bale Breaker Brewing Company
, Bellevue Square Collection
, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
, Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
, Bogard & Johnson LLC
, Bookwalter Winery
, Canlis Restaurant
, Chihuly Garden and Glass
, City of Issaquah
, City of Port Angeles
, City of Redmond
, City of Sequim
, Clarion Hotel Seatac
, Clipper Navigation
, Colville Chamber of Commerce
, Courtyard by Marriott
, Cowlitz County Tourism Bureau
, Experience Olympia
, Four Seasons Hotel Seattle
, Hampton Inn Richland
, Hampton Inn Spokane Airport
, The Herbfarm
, Hilton Garden Inn Spokane Airport
, Hilton Vancouver Washington
, Holiday Inn Express & Conference Center
, Holland America Line
, Homewood Suites Richland
, Hotel Andra
, Hotel Rio Vista
, Kalispel Tribe of Indians
, Kenmore Air
, Ledgestone Hotel
, Northwest Travel Magazine
, NW Tours
, Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission
, Pandion Consulting
, Paradigm Communications Group
, Port of Edmonds
, Port of Ilwaco
, Port of Seattle
, Pullman Chamber of Commerce
, Quality Inn Oakwood
, Quinault Beach Resort & Casino
, Renton Chamber of Commerce
, Seattle Aquarium
, Seattle Monorail Services
, The Westin Bellevue
, The Westin Seattle
, Tillicum Village
, Visitor Guide Publications
, Visit Rainier
, Visit Tri-Cities
, W Seattle Hotel
, Washington Hospitality Association
, Washington State Convention Center
, Washington State Wine Commission
, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce
, Yakima Valley Tourism
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
In the 2017-19 state operating budget, the Washington State Legislature appropriated funds to the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and directed the department to use the funds in collaboration with the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) to develop a draft statewide tourism marketing plan. Since the end of the legislative session, WTA representatives have been working with Commerce to develop a request for proposal (RFP) to find a qualified entity with marketing expertise to work with the two organizations.
Commerce has officially published the RFP on the WEBS for Vendors website. A copy of the RFP can be found here. The RFP includes the scope of work, qualifications for applicants and timeline for submittals, among other information. To respond to the RFP, please register here. Questions about the RFP should be directed to the RFP Coordinator designated in the document.
We wanted to make sure that you as tourism professionals had a copy of this document. Please feel free to circulate it to anyone who you think might be interested and qualified. Thanks for your assistance in getting the word out!
WTA TOURISM CALL TO ACTION
CALL/EMAIL YOUR LEGISLATORS IMMEDIATELY
Contact your legislators NOW and ask them to support SSB5251 to create a Statewide Tourism Marketing Program.
The bill will be considered by the Senate Ways & Means Committee early Friday and then on to the Senate and House floors.
We need to reach every legislator!
Tell them to Vote YES on SSB5251to establish a Tourism Marketing Authority and the critical framework necessary to establish the statewide marketing program for Washington State.
- VOTE YES on SSB5251
- The structure of a Tourism Marketing Authority is necessary to ensure accountability and a return on the state investment.
- Tourism impacts more than hotels, restaurants and destinations. It benefits retailers, outdoor recreation, state parks, ports and cities….and ultimately the taxpayers of Washington.
- A statewide tourism marketing program would concentrate on bringing more tourists to Washington from outside the state and nation.
- The Washington Tourism Alliance believes there is a minimum of a three-to-one return to the state treasury on investment for the proposed statewide tourism marketing program.
This return on investment will happen quickly. Unlike other state programs that may take years to show results, increased tourism will return the investment almost immediately.
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY
HELP THE WTA BRING A STATEWIDE TOURISM MARKETING PROGRAM OVER THE FINISH LINE
The Washington State Legislature is in the final days of passing a new state budget and we need to make sure our priority legislation SHB1123/SSB5251 is passed and funded for the 2017-19 biennium. The current deadline for a new budget is June 30, a week from Friday!
Our WTA grassroots network has been awesome in contacting legislators over the past few months but we need you to do it again …and soon! Even if you’ve already send an email, text or made a call, please make those outreach contacts again this week!
The basic messages:
- We urge you to talk to your leadership and budget negotiators and ask them to make sure SHB1123/SSB5251 are funded in the state budget and bills are passed to implement the program in the 2017-19 biennium.
- The small investment by the state will be matched 2-for-1 by the tourism industry and provide almost immediate returns on the investment to state coffers. The important tax and spending revenue generated by tourism will make a difference for years to come.
- Washington is the only state in the nation without a statewide tourism marketing program.
- Our communities do an excellent job with local lodging taxes to promote themselves, but to grow tourism revenues for the state, Washington needs to have a statewide tourism marketing program that brings national and international visitors into Washington state. One of the primary goals of the legislation is to reach travelers and get them to areas of the state outside urban centers.
Everything you need is on the Tourism Works page. You’ll find talking points and a link to find your legislators’ contact information. Please forward this message and webpage link to your network. Every name counts.
Social media is especially important in these final days of the session. Please use the hashtag #tourismworks on all your posts and tag your legislators to let them know you support statewide tourism marketing.
Find the WTA on Twitter @WTAlliance and Facebook .
If you need anything for your own advocacy and grassroots efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact Barbara Smith or Mike Moe.
Washington State Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume, 2000-2016 – Preliminary Dean Runyan Associates April 2017
Summary The Washington State economy saw robust growth in 2016, which stimulated in-state consumer confidence and many industries in the state.
As Washington residents currently comprise two thirds of all trips to destinations within the state, tourism visitations, expenditures and visitor-generated tax revenues grew. The pace of overall tourism growth slowed, however, and Washington has dropped in stature from the state’s fourth largest industry to fifth largest.
• Overall visitation in Washington increased modestly (1.7 percent), compared to 3.2 percent growth the previous year and 2.5 percent visitation growth in Oregon in 2016. • While state residents are helping sustain tourism in their own back yard, Washington is failing to attract out-of-state visitors at comparable rates to competing states. • While Sea-Tac International Airport reported record passenger volumes and 11.1 percent growth in international passengers in 2016, spending by foreign visitors in Washington decreased slightly due the strength of the U.S. dollar or competition from other U.S. destinations. • Tourism disparity between Washington’s urban and rural counties continues. Compound average annual tourism growth between 2010 and 2016 shows that King, Pierce and other urban counties are as much as 50 percent above their long-term growth levels, in stark contrast to most other counties in the state which are at or below those growth levels. • Travel spending and employment grew at 4.4 percent, respectively, buoyed by robust hotel occupancies in Seattle and other urban centers, an 8 percent reduction in motor fuel prices, instate consumer confidence and other factors.
Tourism Snapshot – preliminary $21.4 billion Visitor expenditures 40.1 million Overnight person trips $1.8 billion State and local visitor-generated tax receipts 177,000 Jobs supported by tourism throughout the state
Business and Competitive Landscape in 2017 • Competing western states continue to invest significantly in tourism as a driver of jobs, economic impact and relieve for communities that incur natural disasters and other crises. Oregon plans to double its state tourism budget over the coming biennium to $76 million. • The position of the U.S. dollar, travel security and U.S. immigration policy are expected to continue to soften inbound business from overseas markets to the U.S. Some destinations have launched overseas advertising campaigns to counteract these challenges.