WTA Summer Newsletter

WTA UPDATE

Mike Moe, Associate Director

There is no better place to be in the summertime than Washington. It’s the busiest time of year for the tourism industry because all around our state, visitors are enjoying the beautiful destinations we have to offer. It’s also a busy time for the WTA as the results of the last legislative session become clearer. While there was no floor action taken on our bill (SHB 1123/SSB5251) in the last legislative session, it is very much alive if the legislature reconvenes and will still be alive next session.

Our bill enjoys widespread, bi-partisan support as we head into 2018 thanks to the WTA lobbying and grassroots team and the hundreds of industry stakeholders who made sure their voices were heard by contacting their local representatives. The legislative budget included a specific appropriation item of $500,000 for fiscal year 2018 to the Department of Commerce to work with the private sector (the Washington Tourism Alliance) to develop a tourism marketing plan.

In the coming weeks, the WTA will work with the Department of Commerce to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) to select a contractor to develop a Washington State Tourism Marketing Plan. The details of the RFP will be made available as soon as possible. Our goal is to have a full marketing plan in hand when the next legislative session begins in January.

 The funding to create a statewide tourism marketing plan is a giant step ahead in our mission to reestablish a statewide tourism marketing effort. The WTA has never had access to dedicated funds to fully develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for Washington. This is truly an exciting time for the tourism industry in Washington because we’ll finally have an opportunity to show what it will look like to market our beautiful state.

Since 2011, the WTA has been working to reestablish a statewide tourism marketing organization. We know that the road has been long and we sincerely appreciate the support shown by businesses and organizations from across our state. The WTA is here today because of the extraordinary energy of our supporters. A big thank you goes out to every WTA member and industry stakeholder who participated in the grassroots effort this legislative session. As we start this new chapter, we hope that your enthusiasm and passion for the WTA mission endures and that you will continue to support our efforts.

 

IT’S NOT OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER
Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick  

 

The session ended but is it really over? On July 20, the third special session of the 2017 Washington State Legislature ended with a bit of a whimper. While there were many accomplishments, including passage of an operating budget right before the “shutdown” deadline, some major things were left undone. Although the legislature is not officially in session, work continues on two major pieces of legislation which failed to pass. The two items, the capital budget and a fix to the Hirst decision, have been politically linked; that is, passage of one is linked to the passage of the other.

Hirst was a state supreme court decision that limited private water rights. Specifically, a person wanting to develop a well on a residential site was limited by existing water rights including those of tribes and others. The developer community has asserted that this decision has stopped virtually all residential development. It is admittedly a very difficult issue to resolve. Several offers have been made but there has not been one acceptable to all the different parties involved.   The impact of Hirst is felt disproportionately in rural areas.

 The capital budget contains construction projects funded by the state. Failure to pass this budget has stopped may ongoing construction projects. While there are projects in rural areas, many believe that the capital budget is more important to urban areas. In fact, there is a document that is a so-called “agreed to” capital budget but the Senate will not consider passing it until a solution to Hirst is found.
What this means is that the legislature may not really be done. If Hirst and the capital budget can be resolved, then Governor Inslee will most likely call the legislature back into session to pass both.
Tourism funding outcome. As reported to WTA members, earlier, the FY 2017-19 operating budget had two provisions relating to tourism. They are as follows:
  • The FY 2017-19 budget contains $500,000 for the development of a statewide tourism marketing plan before July 1, 2018. While the budget language calls for this to be accomplished under the guidelines of SSB 5251, the tourism marketing bill supported by WTA. Since that legislation did not pass, WTA is working with the Department of Commerce to determine how the funds will be spent to develop the required plan. It is anticipated that an RFP for a marketing plan consultant will be issued soon.

The FY 2017-19 budget also contains a provision for a tourism “sector lead”. The purpose of the sector lead is to have a voice for the industry within the Department of Commerce and a line for communication to the governor’s office. The budget provision allows Commerce to designate an organization as a sector lead. WTA is working with Commerce to establish the parameters for the tourism sector lead and to hopefully have WTA designated as the lead.

As these activities are going on, we continue to talk with legislators to gain support for the comprehensive tourism marketing legislation, SHB 1123 and SSB 5251. Both bills will still be alive at the start of the 2018 session. Before the start of the 2018 legislative session we will be meeting with our key legislative supporters to get their advice on how to proceed. Assuming a marketing plan is crafted with the funds provided in the budget and legislators buy into the plan, legislation will be necessary to establish the mechanism for implementing the plan. That means we will be calling on all of you to work with your legislators for their continued support for a tourism market including program.

 WTA BOARD UPDATE
The WTA is pleased to announce the selection of two new board members: Shaun Tucker and Ron Williams.
Shaun Tucker is the General Manager of the Alderbrook Resort and Spa in Union, Washington. He sits on the Mason County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and has been a property level GM since 2005. Shaun will represent Resorts on the WTA Board.
Ron Williams is the Executive Director of Visit Walla Walla and has extensive experience in both the non-profit worldand wineries. Ron will be filling the vacant Southeast Washington position on the WTA board.
Ron and Shaun hit the ground running by participating in the August board meeting and we are excited to work with them as we put together a statewide marketing plan.
 The WTA would also like to thank Cheryl Kilday of Visit Spokane for three and half years of leadership of the WTA as the Chair of our Board of Directors. The WTA would not be where it is today without her. Her experience and steady hand guided the WTA and helped mold our organization into what it is today. Cheryl will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and on our Executive Committee as Past Chair. Filling her large shoes will be Andy Olsen from Columbia Hospitality. Andy has served on the board and on our Executive Committee since WTA’s inception in 2011 and has been instrumental in leading our legislative efforts. After a smooth transition, the WTA leadership role certainly remains in capable hands.

 

EXPERIENCEWA.COM FALL PROGRAMS
Mike Moe, Associate Director 
Connect with people looking for things to do in Washington this Fall on ExperienceWA.com. We have several programs that will help you connect with users who are actively planning a trip in Washington. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Banner Ads: Our REWARDS program doubles the number of impressions you purchase for free. This year, our Banner Ad program is averaging a cost-per-click of $1.47, which is outstanding! Our Banner Ad packages start at only $604 for WTA members ($683 for non-members)
  • Deals Page: Highlight a special value-added package or discounted getaway on our Deals page. The specials on our Deals page are averaging less than $1.00 cost-per-click in 2017! You can highlight a package on our Deals page for only $450 for 3 months ($495 for non- WTA members) or $1,500 for a full year ($1,650 for non-members).
To check our full media kit, please click here. To learn more or to set up your fall campaign, email Mike Moe or call him at 425-444-0589

 

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 atdiana@watourismalliance.com.

 

WTA WELCOMES MAY, JUNE, AND JULY MEMBERS 

NEW MEMBERS:

Wildlife Trekking

 
RENEWING MEMBERS:

Arctic Club SeattleArgosy CruisesButler TransportationCedarbrook LodgeChrysalis Inn & SpaClark Nuber, PSColumbia HospitalityCopacino & FujikadoFran’s ChocolatesHard Rock Cafe, Holiday Inn Express – BellinghamHoliday Inn Express – PuyallupHoliday Inn Express – Spokane ValleyHoliday Inn/Express of Yakima/EllensburgHomewood Suites – SeattleHyatt Regency BellevueLynnwood PFDMaryhill Winery, McMenamins Olympic ClubMt. Adams Chamber of CommerceMt. Baker Foothills Chamber of CommercePineapple HospitalityQuality Inn Valley SuitesSaga City MediaSeattle Times CompanySheraton Bellevue HotelSheraton Seattle HotelSkagit Valley TourismSleeping Lady Mountain ResortSpringHill Suites – SeattleSpringHill Suites – WenatcheeTourism Walla WallaVisit Kitsap PeninsulaVisit Lewis Clark ValleyVisit SpokaneWhidbey & Camano Island TourismWing Luke Museum
If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Associate Director Mike Moe or join today online here.