August/September Newsletter

WTA UPDATE
Mike Moe

The 2016 Washington Tourism Summit will be held on October 14th at the Crowne Plaza in SeaTac. This year we will present a new legislative plan that will create a long-term funding source for a statewide tourism marketing effort. As our members and industry partners know, a legislative taskforce has been meeting regularly this summer to develop our long-term funding plan that will be presented as legislation during the 2017 congressional session. This task force includes members of legislature from both the House and Senate and each of the political caucuses, as well as WTA board members.

The morning session will include members of the legislative task force who will provide an update on the legislative plan. The afternoon session will include a Rally for Success – the 2017 Grassroots Launch where you will learn how to mobilize your community to help pass this important legislation. This year we need all hands on deck and we will provide you with the tools and information you need to support this effort. Chris Ihrig, CEO of Fired-Up! Culture, will provide an exciting wrap up at the end of the session to crystallize the important messages of the day and finish the Summit on an enthusiastic and positive note.

We are pleased to announce that Roger Dow, the President and CEO of the US Travel Association will be the keynote speaker for this year’s Summit. Since 2005, Roger has led the US Travel Association and has been instrumental in transforming the organization into one of the most effective industry associations in the country.

roger-dow

“This year’s tourism Summit will be the most important to date!” said Christina Pivarnik, WTA Board member and Chair of the Summit Planning Committee. “We are excited to welcome Roger Dow as our keynote speaker and look forward to presenting the new WTA plan for legislation that will provide long-term funding for a sustainable statewide marketing effort. After hearing your feedback from previous Summits, we are also going to provide plenty of networking time so you can catch up with your colleagues from across the state. Please plan to join us in October!”

Please join us for an afternoon reception following the general session, where you can visit vendor tables, enjoy light hor d’oeuvres served and a no host bar, and network with your industry colleagues. Space is limited this year, so don’t wait to register! Please click here to view the full schedule and to reserve your spot.

 

 

LEGISLATIVE WORKGROUP CONTINUES DELIBERATIONS ON TOURISM FUNDING

Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick  
State legislators who have voluntarily focused on finding a solution to funding a coordinated statewide tourism effort have met three times over the summer. Most recently they met in early September. They will continue their discussions into the fall with the goal of having a proposal for the 2017 legislative session.
The legislators engaged in this workgroup clearly understand the value of having a coordinated statewide tourism marketing program and are well aware of the return on investment it will deliver to local and the state economies. This is why all are adamant that the state must be engaged and allocate funding into whatever program is developed. The challenge, however, is finding the funding because of the massive budget constraints the legislature faces as a result of Supreme Court mandated orders to fund basic education and mental health services.
The first two workgroup meetings concentrated primarily on examining how other states fund tourism efforts, understanding the complex state and local lodging tax structure, past legislative proposals, possible other tax options and funding mechanisms, and tools for determining ROI. The third meeting focused on delving into the components of a legislative proposal that would be both practically and philosophically acceptable within the legislature and the tourism industry.
The general consensus of the group seems to be a conceptual proposal that is a public-private partnership, not a state run program. The industry would be responsible for implementing and managing the program and the state’s role would be focused on generating some, if not all, of the funds. The state would also be responsible for providing the basic parameters of the program through a contract with a non-profit marketing entity and for evaluating the effectiveness of the program’s ability to create jobs and returning tax dollars to the state.
The difficult part, of course, is how to fund the program. The first decision was how much would provide for an adequate program. While the request under previous legislation was for a $7.5 million program annually, after reviewing other state programs and levels of funding the general consensus of the group is that an annual target of $15 million would be necessary to be competitive and successful. How to generate the $15 million and how much of that is appropriated directly from the state and how much is generated from the industry and through what mechanism remains the challenge and is now where a majority of the group’s work will be focused.
A straight dollar appropriation from the state’s general fund is not likely given budget constraints, nor is it desired primarily because it does not create a long term mechanism that would provide stability and ensure future stream of funding.
Some potential options discussed include a phased-in approach of the state funding:
  • start-up funding that would expire once an industry-based mechanism is generating funds;
  • identifying current taxes, with a nexus to tourism, a portion of which or an increased amount could be repurposed to the program;
  • identifying where and what state agencies are currently spending on tourism related marketing efforts (e.g. state ferries) and using these funds in a more strategic way;
  • tax credits directed to a program; and
  • generating new revenues through a voluntary fee structure collected by the state.
While there is much work still to be done, great strides have been made in just three meetings resulting in a general consensus on fundamental components to the proposal. The energy of the workgroup continues to be positive and the WTA staff is keeping the momentum going with now putting concepts to paper for the group to consider.

ASSEMBLING A TEAM FOR OUR NEW DIRECTION

Cheryl Kilday, President & CEO, Visit Spokane, WTA Board Chair

The WTA board of directors has added to our team of professionals for our stronger, more robust grassroots campaign for the 2017 legislative session. We are excited about the team and their roles to help get legislation passed to fund a sustainable tourism promotion for all of Washington state.

Our grassroots effort campaign is being coordinated by Washington state native Barbara Smith. Barbara is the owner of Harris & Smith Public Affairs and has years of experience running successful campaigns to secure legislative support. Barbara has more than 20 years of experience working with tourism related projects and understands of our challenges and opportunities. Her email address isBarbara@HarrisandSmith.com – you may hear from her soon so please respond with enthusiasm to help build our grassroots network. We will be ready to go into action as the legislative plans are finalized. The full campaign will be launched at theOctober 14 Tourism Summit so don’t miss it!
The legislative team continues to be led by Becky Bogard with Kathryn Hedrick and with the addition of Marian Ericks of the Washington Restaurant and Lodging Association. This trio of experts is already working with representatives from all four caucuses to develop a legislative strategy and build support. They have made significant headway in preparing for the legislative session.

Another new team member is Megan Folkestad, our key communication and coordinator point person supporting our public affairs between the grassroots and legislative teams. Megan is experienced with legislative policy, communications, and knows the legislators and their aides. She will quickly coordinate meetings, communication strategies, etc. You may also soon hear from Megan encouraging you to participate in meetings, hearings, and signing letters to support our legislative and grassroots efforts. Her email is megan.fpa@outlook.com.

The WTA board and staff are prepared to do whatever we can to actively implement the strategies to help us succeed. Our key point WTA staff person is Mike Moe, Associate Director. Mike will continue to sell advertising on the website and eNewsletters while expanding his role to include more advocacy assignments. Diana Thibado is our WTA office “secret weapon” and has expanded her hours to act as our administrator for membership, advertising sales, and coordinating the WTA board and committee meetings.

Our board of directors will be the face of the tourism industry representing our shared objectives to support and pass legislation at hearings, meetings, and with media.

All of Washington State will prosper greatly from a state-wide tourism program so we aren’t holding anything back. We are counting on your support, enthusiasm, and energy to win big in the 2017 session! Our optimism will become a reality with your help!

SPONSOR THE 2016 TOURISM SUMMIT

The 2016 Washington Tourism Summit is the best event to connect with tourism industry partners from all over Washington State. Hundreds of members of the industry will converge on the Crowne Plaza in SeaTac to discuss the new legislative plan and to network. This year’s event will include plenty time in the morning and a reception in the afternoon for participants to have time to mingle with vendors. Free tickets come with every sponsorship as well as prominent display of your logo. For only $300, you can purchase a vendor table. There are also opportunities for time on the microphone in front of hundreds of tourism professionals.

Click here to see the different sponsorship opportunities. Please contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or call him at 425-444-0589 for further details.

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 WELCOMES JULY AND AUGUST MEMBERS 

NEW MEMBERS:

RENEWING MEMBERS:

360 Hotel Group, Adrift Hotel, Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, Butler Transportation, City of Port Angeles, Clark Nuber, PS, Columbia Hospitality, Colville Chamber of Commerce,Forks Chamber of Commerce, Four Seasons Hotel Seattle,Fran’s Chocolates, The Herbfarm, Holiday Inn Express – Bellingham, Homewood Suites – Richland, Homewood Suites – Seattle, Hotel Andra, Maryhill Winery, Northwest Travel Magazine, Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau, Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission, Paradisos del Sol Winery, Port of Chelan County, Quality Inn Valley Suites, Saga City Media, Sheraton Bellevue Hotel, Skagit Valley Tourism, Tillicum Village, Visit Kitsap Peninsula, Visit Rainier, Washington Restaurant Association, Washington State University, Washington State Wine Commission,Whidbey & Camano Island Tourism, Yakima Valley Tourism
If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe atmike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.

2016 Washington Tourism Summit Registration is Open!

2016 Washington Tourism Summit will take place on October 14th at the Crowne Plaza in SeaTac. Registration is now open! Register by September 16th to take advantage of early registration pricing.

Summit Agenda – is now up on our summit webpage

Hotel – The Crowne Plaza is offering special rates for Summit attendees, please email reservations@cpseattleairport.com or call (206) 248-1000 and mention the WTA Rate.

We ask that you indicate your legislative district when you  register for the Summit. You can look it up here.

We look forward to seeing you all this year!

Register Now!

Please contact Diana Thibado with questions or for more information. Sponsorship opportunities can be found here.

June/July 2016 Newsletter

 

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

Yakima Plaza2
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/

Yakima Plaza

 

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.

Tri-Cities Kiask

“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.

Kitsap Kayak

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.

 

START PLANNING YOUR FALL ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN ON EXPERIENCEWA
Mike Moe
 Summer is finally here, but Fall is just around the corner! Now is the time to start planning for the all-important shoulder season and ExperienceWA.com can help. List your Fall event on ExperienceWA.com for 3 months for only $340 ($370 for non-WTA members). Take advantage of our REWARDS program and we’ll double the Banner Ad impressions you buy for FREE! Purchase a space in one of our monthly eNewsletters for as little as $250 ($275 for non-WTA members). Click here for our Media Kit to learn about these programs and more.To set up a time to discuss how ExperienceWA.com can help you achieve your Fall advertising goals, please call Mike Moe at 425-444-0589 or email him at mike@watourismalliance.com.
MEMBERS IN THE NEWS  
BOOKWALTER WINERY NOMINATED FOR BEST WINERY RESTAURANTYAKIMA VALLEY TOURISM CEO LEADS ROTARY INTERNATIONAL TOUR TO AUSTRALIA
VISIT SPOKANE ANNOUNCES TOURISM AWARD WINNERSUNION GAP’S OLD TOWN DAYS AND THE CIVIL WAR REENACTMENT SUCCESS

 

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 WELCOMES MAY AND JUNE MEMBERS 

NEW MEMBERS:

El Gaucho, Gates Foundation, Suncadia Lodge, Visit Lewis Clark Valley, Washington State Parks and Rec Commission
RENEWING MEMBERS:

Arctic Club Seattle, Chrysalis Inn & Spa, Clark County Public Facilities District, Food Services of America, Holiday Inn Express – Puyallup, Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce, Lynnwood PFD and Convention Center, McMenamins Olympic Club, Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce, Mt. Baker Foothills Chamber of Commerce, Port Madison Enterprises – Clearwater Casino, REI Seattle, Seattle Seahawks, Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Teatro ZinZanni, Washington State Convention Center

If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.

The 2016 Official Washington Visitors’ Guide

The Official Washington State Visitors’ Guide is the essential, one-stop source for Washington State travelers. With stunning photography, detailed maps, and insider information on the state’s must-see attractions, the guide highlights the unique and appealing aspects of each of the state’s diverse travel regions. Convenient, complete, and compelling, the Official Washington State Visitors’ Guide makes it easy for travelers to find everything they need to enjoy and extend their stay in the Evergreen State. Order yours today!

View the online version of this guide.

Order a copy of the  2016 Official Washington State Visitors’ Guide.  You should receive your  Visitors’ Guide in approximately 2-3 weeks.

 

2016 Visitor Guide Covers

 

For advertising information for the Official Washington State Visitors’ Guide please contact our publishing partner, SagaCity Media. Jeff Adams, VP Custom Publishing at 206-454-3007 or jadams@sagacitymedia.com.

 

WTA Newsletter – April/May

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE
Louise Stanton-Masten

This week the WTA joins with other tourism organizations from around our state and nation to recognize and celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week-America’s annual salute to travel and tourism. The event was established by a congressional resolution in 1983 and serves to recognize the economic power of the tourism industry.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. in 2015 averaged $2.6 billion a day and had a total economic benefit of $2.1 trillion, which included $947.1 billion in direct travel expenditures and an additional $1.2 trillion from related industries. Nationally, 15.1 million jobs and $231.6 billion in wages were supported by travel expenditures, with one out of nine jobs in the U.S. dependent on travel and tourism. $147.9 billion of tax revenue was generated by travel spending for federal, state and local governments.

In conjunction with National Travel and Tourism week, the WTA last week released Washington State 2015 travel research. According to preliminary data compiled for the WTA by Dean Runyan Associates in the reportState Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume 2000 -2015, tourism in Washington State improved slightly in 2015, but inconsistently throughout various counties in Washington and comparatively slower than the state’s overall taxable sales growth.

The total number of overnight person-trips (39.4 million) increased by 3.1 percent in 2015, similar to the preceding year. Direct visitor spending in Washington was $20.7 billion in 2015, up 5.4 percent in current dollars over 2014, which compares with 6.8 percent growth in overall state taxable sales during the same period, according to figures released by the Washington State Department of Revenue.

WTA’s research also reported on tourism employment and tax revenue. The travel and tourism industry supported more than 170,500 jobs in 2015, up 3.8 percent from 2014. Local and state travel-generated tax revenue was $1.8 billion, an 8 percent increase over 2014; this is equivalent to $650 in tax revenue for each Washington household. This includes $1.2 billion in tax revenues directly related to the purchases of visitors and $610 million in tax revenues attributable to travel industry employees and businesses.

The research serves to illustrate a disparity in the tourism impacts in eastern and western Washington and in the urban and rural parts of the state. For example, while total direct visitor spending increased by 5.4% overall for Washington State last year, when King County is excluded the statewide increase is only 2.5%.

The WTA believes that the research underscores the importance of maintaining the WTA’s current marketing programs while continuing our efforts to secure adequate long-term, industry led funding for programs which will benefit the entire state.

DISCUSSIONS BEGIN WITH AN EYE TO 2017
Becky Bogard

At the end of the 2016 legislative session, several legislators volunteered to work together to find a solution to funding for a statewide tourism marketing program. This working group will begin meeting in mid-May and with a goal of fashioning a solution by mid-summer.

The group includes Sen. Sharon Brown (R., Kennewick) and Rep. Cindy Ryu (D., Shoreline). They chair the committees that deal with tourism in the Senate and House, respectively. Others participating in the working group include Sen. Dean Takko (D., Longview), Rep. Cary Condotta (R., Chelan), Rep. Gael Tarleton (D., Seattle), Sen. Kevin Ranker (D., Orcas Island) and Sen. Christine Rolfes (D., Bainbridge Island). It is anticipated at least two other legislators will join the working group.

At the first meeting, these members will be provided with information about how other states finance tourism efforts and what lodging tax is used for in Washington State. In addition, members will review past proposals on tourism funding in Washington ranging from the WTA proposal to a proposal for financing by a tax credit.   Finally, members will be briefed on the results of the latest Dean Runyan report. This session in intended to provide participants with a foundation of information so that they can proceed to discuss options for our state.
WTA consultants and staff will be joined by representatives from the Washington Lodging Association, the Washington Restaurant Association, the Washington State Destination Marketing Organizations and other tourism related organizations.

In addition, WTA board members will be asked to review and discuss the principles of the WTA proposal. The purpose of this discussion is to give guidance to WTA consultants and staff as we pursue a proposal to present to the 2017 legislative session. It is important that WTA prioritize what is important in a proposal as discussions with legislators proceed. Another part of the board discussion will focus on grassroots organization – what more WTA needs to do to make sure that legislators understand from their own constituents that a robust tourism marketing program will benefit the state economically.

SAVE THE DATE!
The 6th Annual WTA Summit will be held in the Seattle area on September 27th, 2016. Look for more information coming soon on program details, key note speakers and registration information.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS  

 ALDERBROOK RESORT AND SPA FEATURED IN EDIBLE SEATTLE

 

WTA WELCOMES MARCH AND APRIL MEMBERS

NEW MEMBERS:

RENEWING MEMBERS:

Alderbrook Resort & Spa, Argosy Cruises, Beeline Tours,Bellevue Arts Museum, Bogard & Johnson LLC, Chateau Ste Michelle, Coast Hotels & Resorts, Copacino & Fujikado,Courtyard by Marriott Tacoma, Courtyard Kirkland, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Doubletree – SeaTac, Everett Community College,Hilton – SeaTac, Hilton Vancouver Washington, Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Seattle, Hotel Max, Hotel Rio Vista, Hyatt Regency Bellevue, Ivar’s, Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce,Long Beach Peninsula, Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Mt Rainier Visitor Association, Museum of Flight,Okanogan County Tourism Council, Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, Olympic Property Group, Pineapple Hospitality,Residence Inn – Redmond, San Juan Island Outfitters, San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau, San Juan Safaris, Seattle Bed and Breakfast Association, Skamania County Chamber of Commerce, Snohomish County Tourism Bureau, Snohomish County, WA, Space Needle, Squaxin Island Tribe Tourism Department, The Embassy Suites – Sea-Tac, Tourism Walla Walla, Travelodge Seattle Center, USS Turner Joy, Visit Bellevue WA, Visit Seattle, Visit Spokane, Visit Vancouver USA, Washington Indian Gaming Association, Washington State Fair, Willows Lodge, Woodninville Chamber of Commerce
If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or join today online here.

New Research Indicates Modest State Tourism Growth

Olympia, Wash. – Preliminary figures released today by the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) indicate that tourism in Washington State improved slightly in 2015, but inconsistently throughout various counties in Washington and comparatively slower than the state’s overall taxable sales growth.

“The research underscores the importance of maintaining the WTA’s current marketing programs, which include the Washington State Visitors’ Guide and  ExperienceWA.com destination website,” said WTA Board Chair Cheryl Kilday. “It also points to the need for a long-term, industry led and funded tourism marketing program.”

The total number of overnight person-trips (39.4 million) increased by 3.1 percent in 2015, similar to the preceding year, according to preliminary data compiled for the WTA by Dean Runyan Associates in the report State Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume 2000 -2015.

Direct visitor spending in Washington was $20.7 billion in 2015, up 5.4 percent in current dollars over 2014. This compares with 6.8 percent growth in overall state taxable sales during the same period, according to figures released by the Washington State Department of Revenue.

WTA’s new research also reported on tourism employment and tax revenue. The travel and tourism industry supported more than 170,500 jobs in 2015, up 3.8 percent from 2014. Local and state travel-generated tax revenue was $1.8 billion, an 8 percent increase over 2014; this is equivalent to $650 in tax revenue for each Washington household.  This includes $1.2 billion in tax revenues directly related to the purchases of visitors and $610 million in tax revenues attributable to travel industry employees and businesses.

“Robust worldwide travel, combined with the individual tourism marketing investments of the state’s major cities, port districts and private sector companies, have helped buoy our industry for the past five years since the state tourism office closed,” said Kilday. Nevertheless, WTA officials worry about loss of tourism market share in the absence of a legislatively approved, statewide industry funded long-term marketing program.

“Seattle, Spokane and other destinations with local tourism promotion areas (TPAs) have raised marketing funds to offset the loss of statewide funding when the State tourism office closed five years ago, but our research continues to suggest that this cumulative return is not enough for our state as a whole,” said WTA Executive Director Louise Stanton-Masten. “The WTA strategy for funding a statewide tourism marketing program is essential to benefit the entire state.”

For example, while total direct visitor spending increased by 5.4% overall for Washington State last year, when King County is excluded the statewide increase is only 2.5%. “Our latest research illustrates the disparity of tourism impacts in eastern and western Washington,” Stanton-Masten said. “Annual tourism spending growth and tax revenue varies greatly between counties in eastern and western Washington, as well as urban and rural areas.”

Senate and House bills supporting WTA’s tourism marketing funding plan were introduced in Olympia this session with significant support, but ran out of time for approval during this year’s short session. Plans are underway to continue the approval process in the next session.

Since the closure of the state tourism office in 2011, the private, non-profit, industry-led WTA has operated on a minimal budget. Competing western state tourism budgets ranged from $7-$50 million last year.  The WTA continues to operate this year with minimum funding provided by membership and corporate sponsorship, but with no supplemental funding from Washington State.

 

About the Washington Tourism Alliance

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) is a 501[c]6 organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of sustaining 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