January Newsletter

WTA UPDATE
Mike Moe, Associate Director

The WTA Summit and Tourism Day in Olympia on January24th brought tourism professionals from across the state for a day of statewide tourism advocacy.

The morning presentation opened with three members of the Legislative Tourism Working Group, Representatives Cindy Ryu, Cary Condotta and Gael Tarleton, sharing why they worked throughout the summer with seven other legislators to create a new plan to fund a statewide tourism marketing effort. They emphasized that the proposed legislation of HB1123 and SB5251 is bi-partisan and an investment in economic development for our state’s future. Their presentation, along with that of Roger Dow, the President & CEO of the US Travel Association, set the optimistic, enthusiastic tone for the day.

“The spirit of positive energy and forward momentum at last week’s Tourism Summit and Day in Olympia was exciting to say the least,” said WTA Summit Committee Chair and Board Member Christina Pivarnik of the City of Port Townsend. “It was especially rewarding to hear Reps. Ryu, Condotta and Tarleton speak in support of a statewide tourism marketing program and its long-term economic development opportunities.”

In the afternoon, Summit participants were encouraged to go up on the hill to visit with their legislators and promote the legislation. Tourism advocates met with legislators in almost every single district in the state. Coming out of the meetings, the tone was enthusiastic and the WTA received fantastic feedback from legislators.

The evening concluded with a reception at The Governor’s Hotel featuring a variety of Washington wine. The WTA would like to especially thank all of the Summit sponsors for helping make the event free and to all those who donated wine for the evening reception.

There’s more work still to be done and we look forward to hearing the strong voice of support from the tourism industry in the coming weeks.

TOURISM BILL MOVING IN THE LEGISLATURE

Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick  

First, we want to give a big shout-out to those who attended the Tourism Summit and met with their legislators. We have been getting excellent feedback from both you and the legislators. You helped make legislators realize there is a much grassroots support for reinstating a statewide tourism marketing program!

There are now identical bills in the House and the Senate that reflect the agreement of the legislative tourism working group. The bills are HB 1123 and SB 5251, respectively.

Sponsors of the House bill, HB 1123, include Reps. Condotta (R., Chelan), Ryu (D., Shoreline), Barkis (R., Lacey), Kirby (D., Tacoma), Wilcox (R., Yelm), Tarleton (D., Seattle), McBride (D., Kirkland), Smith (R., Whidbey Island), Muri (R., Lakewood), Frame (D., Seattle), Tharinger (D., Sequim), Morris (D., Mt. Vernon), and J. Walsh (R., Longview). Sponsors of the Senate bill, SB 5251, include Sens. Takko (D., Longview), Warnick (R., Moses Lake), Rolfes (D., Bainbridge Island), McCoy (D., Tulalip), Zeiger (R., Puyallup), and Chase (D., Shoreline). If any of these are your legislators, please thank them for their support!

The House bill is the first to move. It was referred to the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee where the bill had a hearing on Wednesday, January 25th, the day after the Tourism Summit. All who testified supported the bill. In addition to representatives from WTA, there was support expressed from the ports association, cities association, Washington Wine Institute, some destination marketing organizations and others. It should be noted that two of the members of the interim working group are members of this committee, Reps. Ryu and Barkis. They were clear to their colleagues about support for the bill. You can view the hearing here. This is the TVW location of the hearing on the bill.

On Thursday, January 26th, the same House committee took executive action and voted the bill out of committee unanimously. There were some technical amendments. One allows matching contributions to be from non-state rather than only private sources. This opens up the possibility of contributions from such organizations as ports, tribes, and DMO’s. Another amendment clarified the source of the public funding for the special tourism marketing fund. A final amendment changed that fund from a non-appropriated fund to an appropriated fund. This is technically necessary since the source of the proceeds in the fund are tax revenues.

So what’s next? As of this writing we know that the House bill was referred to the  House Appropriations Committee, with no hearing scheduled yet. Please keep checking the website for the latest on the path of the bill so you know which legislators are important to contact.

In the Senate, we anticipate that the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade and Economic Development Committee will have a work session about tourism. Many of the members are new to the committee and would like to have a briefing about the industry before considering the bill. A hearing has been scheduled February 9th at 8am.

Again, please keep checking the WTA website for updates on the bill.

 
PORT OF SEATTLE ANNOUNCES 2ND ANNUAL TOURISM MARKETING SUPPORT PROGRAM

 

The Port of Seattle announces the 2017 Tourism Marketing Support Program available for organizations across the state of Washington. The match funding can be used for a variety of tourism marketing efforts such as website development, advertising and participation in travel trade shows. The focus is to increase out-of-state tourism and promote Port of Seattle travel related facilities such as Sea-Tac International Airport, cruise terminals and recreational marinas. Application forms and proposals for the 2017 program are due February 22, 2017.

“We are impressed with the results from last year’s grant winners and this is a great way to boost tourism for the state of Washington,” said Commission President John Creighton. “We remain committed to working with our partners to get more visitors to destinations across our state.”

The Port of Seattle is making $150,000 available to organizations such as chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) and regional tourism organizations; government entities such as counties, cities, port districts, Native American nations, or state/federal agencies; and non-profit organizations focusing on events or activities that attract visitors. The maximum fund request from an organization is $10,000.

“With the Port of Seattle’s support, we are able to change the market for Walla Walla by advertising to likely flying travelers from out of state,” said Mary Angelo, Director of Client Services, DVA Advertising and Public Relations. “The Port of Seattle’s matching grant allowed our organization to present at the IPW travel trade show, garnering contacts and interest that will lead to an increase in international visitors to our destination,” said Sherrye Wyatt of Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism.

“The Port of Seattle’s application process was very easy, and the 24th annual Wintergrass Music Festival was able to see four times the click rate on our website, which resulting in a 56 percent increase in out of state ticket purchases,” said Wendy Tyner of the Wintergrass Music Festival.

For more information, visit the Port of Seattle website.

EXPERIENCEWA BANNER ADS HAVE HAD ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL YEAR!

 

2016 was another outstanding year for the advertisers on 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 your business or destination plans for this new year, we would like to share a highlight from the past year.

In 2016, we continued our REWARDS Program for our banner ad platform and it has been extremely successful. Our advertisers are only paying an average of $2.17 per click. That is WAY below industry standard. The fact that ExperienceWA website visitors are there specifically to learn about traveling in Washington State only make these clicks more valuable.

There are so many different 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 here to view the full ExperienceWA Media Kit.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

LAKE CHELAN POPULAR RED WINE AND CHOCOLATE RETURNING NEXT MONTH

NEW MEMBERS:

Booking.com, Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce

RENEWING MEMBERS:

Watch HB 1123 House Committee Hearing

The Washington House Committee for Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs heard House Bill 1123 today that would establish a statewide tourism marketing association. Among those who spoke in support of the bill were Rep. Cary Condotta, the sponsor of the bill, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and WTA Board Member Shiloh Schauer, Port of Seattle Tourism Director and WTA Board Member Ron Peck, and Washington Retail Association Vice-President of Government Affairs Mark Johnson. There were no speakers against the bill. You can view a recording of the hearing here.

NEW PERFORMANCE-BASED STATEWIDE TOURISM MARKETING PROGRAM READY FOR LEGISLATORS

STATE SENATE AND HOUSE LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN 2017 SESSION

(Olympia) — Washington would no longer be the only state in the nation without a statewide tourism marketing program under legislation introduced in both the state House and Senate this week.  The legislation would create an industry-led Tourism Marketing Authority and provide performance-based industry funding mechanisms without additional taxes.  Both HB1123 and SB5251 (the same legislation but entered in both the Senate and House) have bipartisan support from legislators representing urban and rural districts throughout the state.  “This legislation has strong support from the tourism industry,” said Cheryl Kilday, chair of the board of the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA).  “We want to thank the sponsors who have worked so hard to find a solution that will provide for more economic development and jobs as well as state and local tax revenue from increasing tourism to Washington.”  Washington State closed its tourism office in 2011 and while visitors to the Greater Seattle area have continued to be strong, many of our smaller and rural communities have struggled to keep vital tourism dollars (and the resulting jobs and tax revenue) flowing to their businesses.  Tourism is Washington’s 4th largest industry and impacts more than hotels, restaurants and destinations.  It benefits retailers, outdoor recreation, state parks, ports and cities – and ultimately the taxpayers of Washington.  More than $1.8 billion in local and state tax revenues are generated directly from tourism.  It’s the largest employer of women and minorities and is responsible for more than 170,500 jobs.  “Washington is the only state in the union that does not have a statewide tourism program. With this legislation, a small investment by the state should see double or even triple the return from the tourism industry. It is a great way to raise revenue without raising taxes,” said Rep. Cary Condotta, R-Wenatchee. “We should see a boost to our tourism industry and economy. It is time to get the word out about our great tourist destinations.”

“We’re lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, so it only makes sense to encourage more economic growth by attracting more tourism in Washington state,” said Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline. “This is especially in rural areas, where we have such natural beauty and a need for new jobs. So I want to thank everyone who visits our state and all those who work to make those visits a memory they will treasure forever.”  The measure also has bipartisan sponsorship and support in the Washington Senate.    “The true wonder of Washington is that with just a two-hour drive in any direction, you can find yourself in a completely different natural ecosystem,” said Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview. “Establishing a Washington Tourism Marketing Program is win-win, benefitting our small business owners on the shores of coastal towns and expanding our ability to share our distinct cultures and environments with the world.”  “We need these kinds of creative solutions to expand and promote the tourism opportunities in our state,” said Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “The tourism industry is such a large part of our economy and these are wise investments that the state should make to promote all we have to offer. My district is so geographically diverse, spanning from the Cascades to desert areas in the East –  I want to showcase this beauty as much as possible.”   A tourism working group of legislators met with industry leaders over the 2016 interim to create the new legislation which contains the following key provisions:

  • Independent oversight of the industry-run program by a board of tourism industry representatives and a legislator from each of the four political caucuses. There will also be some non-voting representatives from relevant state agencies including the Department of Commerce, Parks and Recreation Commission and the Department of Revenue.
  • A marketing plan and campaign that focuses on bringing more tourists to Washington and out to rural and tourism-dependent counties, emphasizing outdoor recreation opportunities and designed to attract international tourists, crafted by a non-profit entity representing the geographic and cultural diversity of the state.
  • A funding mechanism for a Tourism Marketing Account: Beginning July 1, 2017, 0.1 percent of general sales taxes collected on retails sales of lodging, restaurants and rental cars will be deposited into the Statewide Tourism Marketing Account. Deposits are limited to $5 million per biennium (every two year state budget cycle) and are subject to private matching funds prior to expenditure. The plan offers the potential for a maximum of $15 million per biennium to be spent on the tourism marketing program.

There will be a hearing on HB 1123 on January 25th before the House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee.  Senate consideration of the legislation is being scheduled.    Other House and Senate Sponsors include:  Rep. Andrew Barkis R-Olympia, Rep. Steve Kirby D-Tacoma, Rep. J.T. Wilcox R-Yelm, Rep. Gael Tarleton D-Seattle, Rep. Gina McBride R-Goldendale, Rep. Norma Smith R-Clinton, Rep. Dick Muri R-Steilacoom, Rep. Noel Frame D-Seattle, Rep. Steve Tharinger D-Dungeness, Rep. Jeff Morris D-Anacortes, Rep. Jim Walsh R-Aberdeen  Sen. Maralyn Chase D-Edmonds, Sen. Christine Rolfes D-Bainbridge Island, Sen. John McCoy DTulalip, Sen. Hans Zeiger R-Puyallup.

The WTA has launched a statewide grassroots effort to support the legislation to rally support.  The “It’s a Great Return – Tourism Works for Washington” campaign showcases how tourism benefits every community throughout the state.

Links for an overview of the bill, frequently asked questions, and information on how to contact your legislators are found here: http://watourismalliance.com/tourismworks/

Make sure to follow the WTA on social media:

https://twitter.com/WTAlliance

https://www.facebook.com/Washington-Tourism-Alliance-197125650316989/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzh8CjNQt-6hmYv0px96RpA

#tourismworksforwa

U.S. Travel Association Issues a Cautionary Tale of Washington State’s Divestment in Tourism Marketing

“Washington State travel spending and tax revenue lags seriously behind not only its neighboring competitor states, but the rest of the country as well,” according to new research from the U.S. Travel Association. In 2011 alone – the year the Washington State tourism office closed – travel spending growth was 13 percent slower and travel-generated tax revenue was 26 percent slower than the national rate. Read more here: https://www.ustravel.org/news/updated-us-destinations-little-self-promotion-goes-long-way

 

THE WTA MOURNS THE LOSS OF DONNA CAPPA
Mike Moe, Associate Director 

The board members and staff of the Washington Tourism Alliance are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Donna Cappa. Donna died on December 3rd, 2016 after being in a terrible accident the night before.

As the Director of Sales and Hotel Operations for the Tulalip Resort Casino and a WTA board member, Donna was a strong advocate for the WTA and worked tirelessly for the betterment of the entire Washington tourism industry. Donna will be dearly missed by her friends and colleagues.

The Tulalip Resort Casino held a beautiful celebration of Donna’s life on December 10th. Following Native American drum and prayer songs, her eldest daughter Rianne gave a moving eulogy. Calling Donna “bigger than life” and “a force to be reckoned with”, she shared that friends and family meant everything to Donna. This sentiment was echoed many times as other family members and friends shared memories and spoke about her life with emotion, eloquence, and humor.

Please join us in keeping her family and friends in our thoughts during this difficult time. If you are able and interested, click here to assist the family with funeral and emergency hospital expenses that were incurred.

TOURISM LEGISLATION STARTING DOWN PATH OF CONSIDERATION AND PASSAGE
Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick

As we approach the holidays and the new year, legislators are coming together to propose legislation intended to establish a long-term tourism marketing program for the state of Washington. As reported in this newsletter, a group of legislators have been working over the interim to fashion a program that will work within the constraints of the state budget.

While the bill is not quite final, it is taking shape and should be available very early in the legislative session, which starts January 9. Some of the features of the bill include the following:
  • Creation of an industry-led Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA) consisting of nine representatives from the tourism industry and four legislators. The Authority would also have and advisory committee with representatives from appropriate state departments and a federally recognized tribe.
  • Purpose of the WTMA would be to contract with a statewide non-profit entity to devise and implement a statewide tourism marketing plan and to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
  • The marketing program would focus on bringing out-of-state tourists to Washington with special emphasis on outdoor recreation, tourism dependent counties and international tourists. It would also include provisions for helping tourism dependent areas impacted by natural disasters such as fires.
  • Funding for the program would come from a $15 million biennial fund. This fund has two components: a diversion of .1% of the state sales tax on lodging, restaurants and rental cars (up to $5 million) and a private match of $10 million. The match can be both cash and in-kind contributions.
Details of the legislation are being circulated among legislators for final approval before introducing the bill. For a more complete discussion of the details, please click here. As with any legislation, it will be discussed in committees and changes may be considered. Hopefully there will be something to start implementing when the 2017 legislature ends.
With the start of the new legislature, there are changes in committee structures that will impact consideration of this legislation. In the Senate, Sen. Judy Warnick (R., Moses Lake) will chair the Agriculture, Water, Trade and Economic Development Committee. This will be the initial committee of consideration in the Senate. The legislation will also have to be considered by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. That committee has a new chair, Sen. John Braun (R., Chehalis).
In the House, the bill will be referred to the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee. Rep. Cindy Ryu (D., Shoreline) is the chair and one of the task force participants. The legislation will then be considered by the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Timm Ormsby (D., Spokane).

Please check the WTA website for the most updated news about the legislation. The site also offers ways that you can be a part of WTA’s grassroots advocacy campaign and has downloadable fact sheets and other tools that you can use in your community.

JOIN THE WTA GRASROOTS EFFORT! 

Barbara Smith, Harris & Smith Public Affairs

The Washington Legislature begins its session in just a few weeks so the WTA Grassroots campaign is kicking into high gear!
We need strong advocates for the 2017 tourism marketing program proposal in every legislative district across Washington. Please take the time to fill out the form on the WTA website www.watourismalliance.com/tourismworks. It will ensure you are receiving up to date information about the grassroots efforts. We will provide you with everything you need to contact your legislator and support the new proposal.

Our coalition of supporters is growing! We are working with allied organizations who understand the benefits of tourism to Washington’s economy and they are joining us to show legislators that tourism works for ALL of Washington – including outdoor recreation, local governments, and business interests.If you know of an organization in your community that could join our grassroots, please let us know!

If you missed the recent WTA Grassroots Webinar, you can watch the entire program when it is convenient for you. The video is posted on the WTA YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOqfh6joACk. Stay tuned for information about future webinars in early January.
We hope we can count on your support, enthusiasm and energy to help us win big in the 2017 session.

2017 WASHINGTON TOURISM SUMMIT AND LOBBY DAY IN OLYMPIA DETAILS

Join us for a day of tourism advocacy focused on WTA efforts to secure long-term funding for Washington State tourism marketing and promotion. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we are able to offer the event free of charge!

Our exciting morning program includes a keynote address from Roger Dow, an interactive panel with legislators from the Tourism Working Group, and more information about our grassroots efforts. During the afternoon we will be moving to the hill to share our message with legislators, followed by an evening reception at the Governor Hotel.

Space is limited, so register here soon!

 

If you haven’t done so already, book your hotel room today! The Governor Hotel is offering special rates for Summit attendees, please call (360) 352-7700 and mention the WTA Tourism Summit & Lobby Day Group.

We look forward to seeing you in Olympia!

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 monthlynewsletter! To submit a story idea, email Diana Thibado atdiana@watourismalliance.com.

WTA WELCOMES NOVEMBER MEMBERS