EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE
Last month we achieved a major milestone in the Washington Tourism Alliance’s (WTA) evolution. The Washington State Legislature allocated $1 million in short-term bridge funds for WTA to continue its critical work to maintain and grow tourism in Washington state.
We thank the legislature for recognizing the importance of supporting the tourism industry in Washington state, as well as Governor Inslee for making tourism part of his Working Washington Agenda.
Most of all, we thank you, our WTA members and partners, for your ongoing work and commitment. We literally could not have come this far without you! Your calls and emails of congratulation during the past two weeks to me and to members of our Board of Directors are greatly appreciated.
It’s important to note that while this budget allocation ensures the basics of a targeted marketing program in 2014 and 2015 it does not support ongoing WTA funding. The program elements funded by the legislature include: website development and maintenance; postage for fulfillment in mailing the Visitor’s Guide; research; call center; and international marketing.
It’s also important to remember that the $1 million allocation is divided across the biennium – $500,000 for each of two years. And of that, a small percentage goes to the Washington State Department of Commerce as an administrative fee.
Also, there is a requirement for a one-for-one match of the State money in either cash or in-kind services. WTA is working with the Department of Commerce to flush out these requirements as well as the start date for flow of the funds.
These short-term funds will be earned every step of the way. And while we’re grateful for the boost, we’re keenly aware that this allocation is only a fraction of what Washington state needs to effectively compete with other states. Last week, the U.S. Travel Association released a ranking of state tourism budgets, which confirms the challenge we face – from Florida’s $80 million budget to our neighboring West Coast competitors, all of whom boast budgets ten to 60 times greater than ours.
In addition to our short-term state budget allocation, we will need to maintain and grow our current membership to financially support operations of the WTA until our long-term funding is in place.
Moreover, member and stakeholder advocacy will be essential in the next legislative session so we can acquire legislative authority to implement the long-term industry-funded model. We are meeting with various constituent groups over the summer and fall to present our long-term funding, governance and programmatic implementation plans.
The past two years have been hard work, but we’ve got a lot to show for everyone’s efforts. I can’t express enough how greatly I, and the WTA Board appreciate the support of our stakeholders and the trust that the industry has placed in the WTA. Going forward we will continue to keep our vision and focus, and work to ensure that Washington state has adequate funding to tell the world that we are THE premier travel destination.
FOLLOW #12TOUR ON TWITTER AS WTA PARTNERS WITH THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
The WTA is pleased to partner with the Seattle Seahawks on this summer’s Seahawks “12 Tour.” Seahawk players will travel around the state visiting some of Washington’s fantastic destinations. The tour kicked off July 11 when players Red Bryant and Doug Baldwin visited The Outlet Shoppes at Burlington before heading up to the Best Western Plus Lakeway Inn, Bellingham. The following day they visited the beautiful Peace Arch Park in Blaine.
The 12 Tour gives the Seahawks a chance to showcase our gorgeous state, bringing national exposure to many of Washington’s attractions. During the tour the Seahawks will run Gatorade youth camps, visit veterans as a part of the Wounded Warrior Project, hold fan forums, and create photo opportunities at Washington state landmarks.
Players Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will visit Kennewick July 18-19 and Vancouver, WA from July 19-21. Beginning July 19 they will visit historic Goldendale and make stops along the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.
The Seahawks and the WTA’s Director of Business Development, Mike Moe, will be live-tweeting the journey. To follow the expedition on Twitter, look for the hashtag #12tour. This year’s 12 Tour marks the beginning of a long and successful partnership between the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Tourism Alliance. To learn more, check out the Seahawk 12 Tour Blog.
MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE: EXPERIENCEWA.COM & 2014 WASHINGTON STATE VISITORS’ GUIDE
The WTA offers several opportunities to market your business to travelers to Washington state. Visitors use our official travel and tourism website ExperienceWA.com, and the Washington State Visitors’ Guide to explore our state and plan their visit. And WTA members can enjoy exclusive discounted pricing in both of these marketing tools!
The new website was launched in January and is engaging more people than ever in using the site to explore all that the state offers. With sections that include Things to Do, Events, Regions & Cities, Guides & Maps, and Stay in Washington, ExperienceWA.com provides advertisers visibility throughout the site. And with all that the new website offers, potential travelers are already spending significantly more time exploring the site and visiting more pages compared to last year. A majority of potential visitors are clicking on partner referrals and as well as reading the Washington State Visitors’ Guide online.
Marketing opportunities are also available in the 2014 Washington State Visitors’ Guide. Produced in continued partnership with the Washington Lodging Association and SagaCityMedia, the Guide has a circulation of 375,000 and a readership of nearly one million prospective travelers. Copies are distributed across nine states and British Columbia via Barnes & Noble, QFC, Whole Foods, other quality stores and more than 2,200 visitor locations. The 2014 guide will also be mailed out to the 65,000 subscribers of Seattle Met and Portland Monthly magazines, available to view online at ExperienceWA.com and downloadable to iPads, tablets and smartphones.
For more information on these marketing tools contact Jeff Adams at SagaCity Media (firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-454-3007). With both of opportunities you can bring visitors to your door while investing in Washington state tourism.
MEMBER NEWS: WASHINGTON’S VANCOUVER RECEIVES TOP RECOGNITION
The winners of the 2013 Communicator Awards have been announced by the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA) and the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office was among the winners. The Communicator Awards is one of the largest and most competitive awards programs honoring creative excellence for communications professionals. The award specifically recognizes Vancouver’s website as one of the most visually appealing Destination Marketing Organization websites out there. Way to go!
MEMBER NEWS: BELLINGHAM’S NEW INSIDER BLOG
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism (BWCT) has a new team of insider bloggers sharing insight and inspiration for Washington’s outdoor adventure, golf, beer, wine, food, history and family fun. To capture all that Bellingham has to offer, BWCT has also launched the BE in Bellingham campaign. Learn more.
WTA WELCOMES JUNE MEMBERS
Bogard & Johnson, CityPass, Inc, Clark Nuber, PS, EverGreen Escapes, Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, Heathman Lodge, Hells Canyon Visitor Bureau, Northwest Agriculture Business Center, Port of Friday Harbor, Sheraton Bellevue Hotel, Susan Goldsmith, Tacoma Regional CVB, Washington Restaurant Association