|WTA THANKS LOUISE STANTON-MASTEN
The Washington Tourism Alliance would like to thank Louise Stanton-Masten for over three years of valuable leadership as Executive Director of our organization. Under her stewardship, the WTA helped pass a bill that provided $1 million of bridge funding to the organization over the 2014-2015 biennium. Additionally, with Louise at the helm, the State Legislature passed a Tourism Funding bill in 2014 that was instrumental in initiating the conversation among lawmakers about the importance of tourism to our state’s economy and has led to the legislative workgroup convening this summer. As the leader of the WTA, Louise continually served as a vital and visible advocate for the importance of tourism marketing for Washington.
Before moving on to her next challenge, Louise will enjoy a summer sabbatical sailing around the Puget Sound. We sincerely appreciate that Louise leaves the WTA in a considerably better position than when she took over as Executive Director and we wish nothing but the best for her in all her future endeavors.
|LEGISLATIVE WORKGROUP DISCUSSION UPDATE
Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick
A core group of legislators from tourism dependent districts and/or who serve in key committee positions in the state legislature came together with industry representatives in May to have the first of what will be several informal meetings aimed at developing a long term, stable mechanism that will fund a statewide tourism marketing program.
Participating legislators included: Senators Sharon Brown (R., Kennewick) Kevin Ranker (D., Orcas Island), Christine Rolfes (D., Bainbridge Island) and Dean Takko (D., Longview); Representatives Cindy Ryu (R., Shoreline) Cary Condotta (R., Chelan), and Gael Tarleton (D., Seattle). Other legislators who have agreed to join the group include Reps. Drew MacEwen (R., Union), Andrew Barkis (R., Olympia), and Hans Zeiger (R., Puyallup).
Participants were briefed on how, and the level at which, other states fund local and statewide tourism efforts. A substantial amount of time was dedicated to briefing and discussing the use of lodging taxes in Washington State given the particularly complicated laws which govern and the regional options which have been instituted. Finally, the three major legislative proposals from the past two years were described and discussed.
While the goal of this first meeting was to simply bring key legislators to the same table with industry and ensure we are all working from the same set of facts/foundation, the end result was encouraging with all legislators clearly understanding the impact tourism has, sympathetic to the historic context which has brought us to where we are, and determined to find a solution that balances the industry needs and what they view as the state’s responsibility to contribute some level of financial support. Discussions were productive and quite candid. The impact of the McCleary education decision on the budget is clearly a concern given the implication it has for the availability of state general funds. Additionally, the need to balance the state’s budget on a four year basis might also impact fund availability.
The group will meet again in late July and most likely will have another meeting soon thereafter. It is our goal to have the solid framework of a proposal in place to share and receive feedback on at the October Tourism Summit.
We look forward to a fruitful discussion and believe this process will lead to a modified legislative proposal for the 2017 session.
|2016 TOURISM SUMMIT UPDATE – SAVE THE DATE!
The 6th Annual WTA Summit will be held at the Crowne Plaza at the Seattle Airport on October 14th, 2016 from 8 am to 5 pm. Our keynote speaker will be Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. Panel speakers will provide an update from the Legislative Workgroup and overview of the WTA Grassroots efforts, including how you can be more involved and next steps for all of us. Look for more information coming soon on the agenda, registration dates and hotel accommodations.
|YAKIMA CENTRAL PLAZA APPROVED
John Cooper, President & CEO, Yakima Valley Tourism, WTA Board
In early July, the City Council of Yakima approved the development and construction of the Yakima Central Plaza, a gathering and event space in the heart of downtown. Built largely through private donations, this $12 million project will convert a multi-acre parking lot into a multi-use public space that can be utilized year-round by locals and visitors to the city.
The plaza was designed by former Yakima native Kathryn Gustafson of GGN in Seattle, Washington. Gustafson is a world-renowned landscape architect known for designing vibrant outdoor spaces. Her work includes the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in London and the Gardens of the Imagination in Terrasson, France. She is known for her ability to create sculptural forms using earth, grass, stone and water. The design inspiration for Yakima Central Plaza will draw from the unique landmarks, geology and heritage of the fertile Yakima Valley. Features will include running water channels that mimic the irrigation canals of the Valley, a grove of trees with seating, a water play area, a shaded structure for vendors and parking, terraced seating, spacious lawns plus staging for large events.
“This plaza will provide a new, dynamic amenity for our residents while attracting visitors and meetings to Yakima,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism and a member of the Plaza Steering Committee. “It will be the place everyone gathers to celebrate and enjoy what makes the Yakima Valley special.”
A timeline for construction and completion are unknown at this time, but plaza boosters hope it will be finished in 2018. For details visit https://yakimacentralplaza.com/
|VISIT TRI-CITIES DEBUTS NEW VISITOR INFORMATION KIOSK
Visit TRI-CITIES debuted a new,
state-of-the-art and interactive visitor information kiosk featured at the Tri-Cities Airport. Visitors traveling through the airport can easily access information featuring more than 775 member hotels, restaurants, attractions and businesses using touch screen interactive monitors conveniently located in the arrival area near the baggage claim.
“We are thrilled to have a kiosk with advanced technology that will provide visitors to the Tri-Cities region with the most current and accurate visitor information available,” said Kris Watkins, President and CEO of Visit TRI-CITIES. “This enhanced visitor experience was made possible through the generosity of Washington River Protection Solutions and the Port of Pasco.” Washington State River Protection Solutions sponsored $40,000 for design and development of the kiosk.
|FOCUS ON OUTDOOR RECREATION PROVIDES ECONOMIC BOOST TO KITSAP PENINSULA REGION
Patricia Graf-Hoke, Director, Visit Kitsap Peninsula
In 2013 tourism, outdoor recreation and environmental leaders on the Kitsap Peninsula decided to take advantage of the region’s 371 miles of shoreline and WA state’s growing reputation as a mecca for outdoor recreation. The goal was to build on the region’s popularity as a destination for leisure and adventure kayak-paddling activities to create new economic opportunities to benefit local businesses, lodging establishments and support shoreline environmental goals. The result was the formation of the Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails (KPNWT), the first water trail in WA State to be officially designated by the Department of Interior as part of its National Water Trails System.
In the past two years, the KPNWT has grown from 56-access locations in Kitsap County to more than 200 location encompassing three counties. The KPNWT is now an important economic development catalyst that each June brings together municipalities, chambers of commerce, port districts, tribes, outdoor recreation retailers, user and environmental groups to host the annual Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails Festival. The celebration, spearhead by the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, features the popular Ride the Tide Paddle event that attracts residents and visitors from around the region and USA.
In addition to generating awareness about the KPNWT, promotional programs provide on-going economic development and marketing support for a wide-range of public and private sector water trail related events, maritime/boating services, rental, retail and even manufacturing sales. The KPNTW has helped to create awareness about other outdoor recreation activities available in the Kitsap region like mountain biking, cycling and road races that have dramatically increased sales among leisure travelers and helped to reduce the area’s historic reliance of government travelers. The Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails is another example of the significant ripple effect that the outdoor recreation industry has on local and statewide economic and environment success.
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