WTA Newsletter – February

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE
Louise Stanton-Masten

WTA Tourism Funding – This month the WTA continued to focus on legislative advocacy to secure funding for our statewide tourism promotion activities. See Steps in the Right Direction elsewhere in the newsletter for details on the status of our interim and long-term funding proposals. Your response to our calls to action and legislative town halls were critical in getting our message to the legislature about the importance of supporting tourism funding during this session. Please continue these efforts as the House and Senate will be working to agree on a final budget before the legislative session ends on March 10. Contact your Senator with your request to include our interim funding request in the 2015-17 state supplemental budget and thank your House Representative for their support.

Tourism Summit and Local Meetings – The WTA Annual Tourism Summit is being planned for late September. While the agenda is still being developed, the timing will allow us to report to our members on our plans for a long-term funding solution and new legislation next session. In the meantime, this spring many local destination marketing organizations are holding their annual tourism meetings. This is a great opportunity to hear about the tourism activities in these communities. As of now we know of the following events:

• Travel Tacoma+Pierce County, March 24
• Visit Lewis Clark Valley, April 13
• Visit Seattle, April 25
• Visit Bellevue, May 3
• Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, May 3
• Visit Spokane, May 11
• Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau, May 12
• Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority, May 17
• Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau, May 26.
Check with your local destination marketing organization for details on these other meetings that may be held around the state.

Release of the 2016 Washington State Visitors Guide –

Each year the WTA, in partnership with the Washington Lodging Association and SagaCity Media, publishes the official Washington State Visitors’ Guide. The 2016 edition will be released in late March. 375,000 copies of the Guide are printed and distributed to Visitor Centers in Washington State, throughout the western United States, and are mailed to individual who request it. Along with our visitor website, www.ExperienceWA.com, the Guide is a primary tool for marketing Washington State. The March WTA newsletter will feature a preview of the three inspiring covers of the Guide and the exciting articles featured in the publication. Look for your copy of the Guide then.

 

STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Becky Bogard

 Budget developments. Thanks to many of you, House members heard your message about the importance of tourism. When the House version of the 2015-17 supplemental budget was presented on Monday, February 22, there was some funding for tourism activities included. Specifically, there is $198,000 to use for enhancing the tourism website. Given the financial circumstances of the state, this funding represents an important statement about the value of the tourism industry.

The week before the budget came out, the legislators received notice that the state’s revenue was down by $219 million. The legal demands on the budget dictated by court decisions remain the same. They include fully funding basic education (the McCleary decision), significantly increasing mental health funding and funding state employee benefit costs (Moore v. HCA). Additionally there are costs of fighting last summer’s forest fires which must be accounted for in this budget.

 

The proposed budget will be acted on by the House Appropriations Committee today, Tuesday, February 23rd. It is anticipated that the full House of Representatives will act on the budget this coming Thursday.

 

Meanwhile, the Senate has been working on its version of the budget. It is anticipated that the Senate Ways and Means chair, Sen. Andy Hill, will unveil the Senate’s proposal sometime later this week. We will need to keep the pressure on the Senate to include the funding for the website in its budget.

Your lobbying team will continue to work for inclusion of funding for postage for the visitor’s guide and participation in Brand USA in the final version of the budget. In the meantime, we ask that you do the following for your District

  • Thank your House members for including website funding in the supplemental budget.
  • Contact your Senator and ask that they keep the website funding in the budget ($198,000) and add funding for visitor guide postage and Brand USA ($202,000).

This needs to be done ASAP since things are moving quite fast in Olympia. Remember the legislative session ends on March 10 which means a budget must be adopted by then.

Long Term Funding Progress. Yet another step was taken towards long term funding. In mid-February, four legislators – one from each caucus – wrote to their legislative leadership to indicate they will be working on a solution for long term tourism funding. These include Sens. Sharon Brown and Dean Takko and Reps. Cindy Ryu and Cary Condotta.
All are particularly well situated to help solve this problem. Sen. Brown is the chair of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee, the committee that will consider proposed legislation. Rep. Ryu is the chair of the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee. This is the House committee that will consider proposed legislation. Sen. Takko represents one of the most tourism-dependent legislative districts and Rep. Condotta is the author of legislation offering a different funding mechanism for tourism.
In their letter, these member said “It is imperative that we find a solution so that Washington State will not be the only state in the nation without a robust statewide tourism marketing program. We see the impacts of closing the state tourism office in 2011, particularly in the rural areas of our state. We have so much to offer in Washington State that it is a tragedy we cannot let the rest of the nation and the world know why they should come visit.”

As soon as the legislature ends, these members will be working with WTA and representatives from its member organizations to agree on a solution to the funding issue. I look forward to writing about their progress in the coming months!

 

PORT OF SEATTLE ANNOUNCES CO-OPERATIVE TOURISM PROMOTION PROGRAM

The Port of Seattle is pleased to announce a $50,000 program to support tourism development across Washington state by jointly promoting use of Port facilities via a new Co-operative Tourism Promotion Program. The intent of the program is to enhance our region’s attractiveness as a tourist destination by promoting tourist options in the state for visitors who use the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Port cruise terminals or marinas.

The Port intends to provide matching support to non-profit organizations in promoting their destination to visitors. Applicants can apply for up to $10,000.00. Port funds can only be used for advertising, publicizing, or otherwise distributing information for the purpose of attracting visitors to the destination to increase tourism expenditures. No Port funds can be used to underwrite general or capital expenses associated with a tourism event or projects already in progress.

The application, FAQ’s and introductory letter for the program are available at www.portseattle.org/tourism. Completed applications must be submitted electronically to application@portseattle.org by Thursday,March 31, 2016. If you have questions about this program or the application, please contact Patti Denny, denny.p@portseattle.org.

 

SNOHOMISH COUNTY TO HOST SIX RURAL TOURISM WORKSHOPS

A series of six rural tourism workshops will be held during spring 2016 to help small communities expand their tourism infrastructure and increase visitor numbers, thereby benefiting local economies. The Rural Tourism Workshop Series is being organized by Amy Spain, Executive Director of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau, and Annique Bennett, Strategic Tourism Coordinator with the Snohomish County Economic Development Division. Spain and Bennett are jointly tasked with implementing the county’s 2010 Strategic Tourism Plan and have worked to organize the Rural Tourism Workshops in conjunction with Pandion Consulting.

Modeled on the highly effective Travel Oregon Rural Tourism Studio Series, Snohomish County’s Rural Tourism Workshop Series will be led by Dan Moore, principal of Pandion Consulting and travel industry expert. The workshops will focus on the county’s two dynamic river valleys, the Skykomish and Snohomish River Valley to the east and the Stillaguamish and Sauk River Valleys in the north. Both areas offer tremendous opportunities for expanding outdoor recreation, adventure travel and agri-tourism.

The series of workshops will begin this month with community visioning and planning on how the regional economy can grow with tourism as a key component. Workshops may include topics such as Bicycle Tourism, Outdoor Recreation Development, Adventure Travel, Small Town Experiences, Culinary Tourism and Agri-tourism. Important tourism trends, sustainable tourism best practices, and case studies will be reviewed to stimulate fresh thinking. Sessions will also incorporate hands-on, skill-building exercises and mentorship from travel industry leaders through panel discussions.

The final session will integrate the work completed into a tourism action plan and accountability road map. Participants will form teams to fulfill this plan and continue the efforts begun in the workshop series.

“The goal is to help rural communities capitalize on their assets and develop a robust, sustainable tourism economy,” said Amy Spain, Executive Director of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau. “With many recreational assets coming online in East and North Snohomish County, now is the time to assist these communities in expanding their tourism infrastructure and visitor readiness so travelers’ experiences are maximized and local economies benefit. Pandion Consulting’s Rural Tourism Workshop Series is designed to provide that targeted assistance, enhance community cohesion, and thereby strengthen Snohomish County’s position as a growing tourism destination.”

Read the full press release here.

To learn more about the Snohomish County Rural Tourism Workshop Series, contact Amy Spain at the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau at amy@snohomish.org. To learn more about Pandion Consulting, visit www.pandion.biz.

 

SAVE THE DATE!

Destination 2020 is Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority’s strategic plan to raise awareness and increase economic impact through tourism. Join us as we share last year’s measurable outcomes and set our sights on 2020. Bill Geist, as the keynote speaker, will offer unique insights on advancing our destination together through community leadership and connectivity. There will be fabulous networking, delicious appetizers, a no-host bar and big prizes!

Online registration opens March 1st

Tuesday, May 17, 3:45PM-6:30PM

Four Points by Sheraton

22406 Pacific Hwy S, Des Moines, WA 98198

Registration: $25

 

FOR A LIMITED TIME, DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT ON EXPERIENCEWA
Mike Moe

Right now you can double your banner ad impressions through our REWARDS program on ExperienceWA. In 2016 ExperienceWA.com is once again proving to be the best place to connect with people planning a trip in Washington State. Traffic is growing year over year creating more banner ad inventory so we are rewarding our advertisers with FREE impressions. Each ad unit purchased will receive a FREE additional run-of-site ad unit to drive even more business your way.

WTA members can buy as few as 20,000 impressions for $592 ($670 for non-members) and receive 20,000 more impressions for FREE!

Clicks from ExperienceWA are more likely to convert to sales because most people who use ExperienceWA are actively planning a trip in Washington. Utilize Washington’s official destination website to connect with travelers as they research their vacation!

To learn more, contact Mike Moe at 425-444-0589, mike@watourismalliance.com or click here to view the ExperienceWA Media Kit.

 

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS  

ALASKA AIRLINES TO FLY NONSTOP BETWEEN ANCHORAGE AND SPOKANE 

 

WTA WELCOMES JANUARY MEMBERS 

 

NEW MEMBERS:

Discover Lewis County

RENEWING MEMBERS:

Campbell’s Resort, City of Kirkland, Columbia Hospitality, Expedia, Grant County Tourism, Hilton Garden Inn – Yakima, Jefferson County Tourism, Lucky Eagle, Outdoor Odysseys, R. C. Hedreen Co, Recreation Northwest, River Park Square

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.