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The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) announced the appointment of David Blandford as its Interim Executive Director, effective May 4, 2020. Blandford will lead the organization’s marketing activities in addition to a growing range of initiatives related to COVID-19, including tourism industry recovery and crisis communications.
“David has in-depth knowledge of Washington tourism, the current challenges we face, an optimistic, pragmatic view for the future, and excellent relationships with our stakeholders here in the state as well as across the country and internationally,” said Shiloh Burgess, WTA Chair. “He is the ideal person to take the helm for the WTA at this time, having served on our Board of Directors since 2012 and as Co-Chair since 2018.” He joins veteran WTA staff members Mike Moe, Managing Director, and Diana Thibado, Director of Operations. The team of three will lead WTA marketing and operations with a concerted emphasis in COVID-19 tourism industry recovery and business mitigation.
“We’ve had the opportunity to closely work with David as Co-Chair over the past two years,” said Moe. “We’re excited about the continuity of his leadership and the future of the WTA.” Blandford was part of the industry group that fought to preserve state tourism office funding in 2009-2010 and inaugurated the Washington Tourism Alliance to re-establish tourism funding after the tourism office closed in 2011.
A 30-year veteran of the tourism industry, Blandford brings extensive marketing, communications and public affairs experience at the local, state and national travel and tourism industry levels. He began his industry career running press trips across Washington State as part of a contract with the state tourism office. In his tenure with the Seattle News Bureau and Visit Seattle, Blandford worked extensively with the state tourism office and the private sector industry to promote Washington State and its various destinations in both domestic and international markets.
He most recently served as Senior Vice President, Public Affairs at Visit Seattle, 2017-2020. He previously held several other positions with the organization including Vice President, Communications and Director of Public Relations. During his tenure, he gained extensive experience with destination marketing, brand development, destination research, consumer and industry social media, web site development, blog creation and management and photography and video production.
Blandford led PR missions in European and Asian tourism markets and worked in tandem with a broader travel trade team in the city, state and with partnering states. He wrote Visit Seattle’s crisis communications plan and managed events and business recovery initiatives related to WTO, the Nisqually earthquake, 9/11 and the 2008 recession.
He is a long-time member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Communications Committee, actively supporting and defending the national travel and tourism industry through policy, public affairs and communications. Blandford is a current member of Destination International’s Advocacy Committee and a 20-year member of the Society of American Travel Writers and Public Relations Society of American, serving in various leadership roles with both associations.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Blandford. “This industry needs support, and we’ll need to find new ways to promote and sustain travel during the ongoing COVID-19 issue. I’m committed to both, and to working with our industry partners.”
Dear Partner, On Sunday March 22, Governor Inslee issued a Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation. The order takes effect immediately and will remain in place for a minimum of two weeks. This proclamation will:
Require every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity
Ban all public and private gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes
Close all businesses except essential businesses
The order states that Washingtonians can still participate in outdoor activities like bike rides, hikes, and working in their yard, as long as they maintain proper social distancing or at least six feet from each other. Essential businesses will remain open including grocery stores and pharmacies. Many tourism-related businesses were also deemed essential including hotels, rental car companies and many transportation organizations, as well as restaurant take-out and curbside services. By this evening, March 25, all non-essential businesses must close. Teleworking from home is still allowed. Businesses can visit the Washington State Business Re-Entry Registration website to clarify or certify status, or to petition their non-essential status. They would still need to implement social distancing rules of at least six feet. Read more about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation.
The impact of the coronavirus is starting to become clearer
and the results for our industry are grim. The closure of restaurants,
attractions and entertainment venues mean that small business owners all over
our state are going to have to do what they can to weather the storm. In the
meantime, the WTA will do everything we can to our businesses survive this upheaval
and then thrive when the time comes to reignite our industry.
As you know, the travel and tourism industry has been hit
disproportionately hard in this crisis. It’s important to document the losses
so we’re able to present a full picture to legislators and members of congress
when they begin to allocate resources. Please take 5 minutes to fill out the
Survey – All answers will remain confidential.
US Travel Survey which includes
an easy communication to your members of congress
Washington State is starting to mobilize to help small
business owners get through this trying time. Please click here for Employment Security
Department resources including:
The Washington Tourism Alliance continues to monitor the impacts of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and is actively communicating and coordinating with Washington State Department of Commerce, Port of Seattle, Visit Seattle and other partners. We will continue to work with Washington’s tourism industry during this challenging time, and will work with Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Commerce to support community mitigation efforts in our state and bolster business recovery efforts for tourism businesses. Below are some resources and ways that you can assist the industry response.
Consumer Travel Advisory
Feel free to refer visitors to a Covid-19 travel advisory we’ve posted on WTA’s consumer travel web site. This advisory is updated daily.
Unfortunately, the WTA,
along with our partner Central Washington University, has determined it prudent
to postpone the 2020 Industry Summit and Economic Outlook that was scheduled to
take place on April 3rd, 2020 in Wenatchee. Due to public health concerns
surrounding the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on small and
large tourism businesses, we are exploring all options to hold the event at a
later date. We made this decision out of an abundance of caution, hoping to
minimize travel and personal interactions for speakers and attendees in order
to best protect the health of those who planned to attend.
Those of you who paid
online should have already received a full refund and those who sent checks
will be refunded shortly. Any plans to reschedule will be announced as soon as
possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Please click here to find industry resources related to
THE WTA ANNOUNCES THE HIRING OF EARTH AND SKY STUDIOS AS INTERIM MARKETING CONTRACTOR Mike Moe, Managing Director
The WTA is pleased to announce the hiring of Earth and Sky Studios, led by Jenn Tate, as its new marketing contractor. For the next 6 months, Jenn and her team will help the WTA assess current marketing initiatives, reignite the social media program, improve website and newsletter performance, expand the photo and video library, and get ready for the new brand launch in Spring of 2020.
Earth and Sky Studios is a small creative agency located in North Central Washington that boasts a 20-year track record of delivering results to businesses and organizations of all types and sizes. It’s work includes integrated creative development, strategic planning, collaborative advertising campaigns, robust digital media management, collateral materials, and more.
With a passion for tourism, destination marketing, economic growth and ultimately the long-term success of small businesses, organizations, and events, Jenn is a dynamic, creative, and competent leader whose mission is to help Washington State Tourism succeed, grow and flourish.
“We’re excited to welcome Jenn Tate as a member of our statewide tourism marketing team,” said David Blandford, WTA co-chair. “She brings the right mix of strategic thinking, marketing expertise, and creativity to our efforts – she’s perfect fit for WTA at this critical juncture in our development.”
“We are so happy to be able to work with the WTA, the regional DMOs, and destinations across the entire state,” said Jenn. “We can’t wait to gather stories, images, video, content, and everything we can to help the WTA make Washington State a bucket-list destination for visitors from around the nation and the globe!”
DARRELL BRYAN 1948 – 2019
Darrell Bryan, former CEO of Clipper Navigation and WTA Board Member, passed away on September 7th after a battle with bone cancer. Born in Long Beach, CA, Darrell moved around the US and Canada in his younger years before completing his undergraduate degree at Washington State University in 1971.
He went to work for Amtrak for 14 years, living in 8 different cities. At the same time, Darrell completed his MBA at St. Mary’s and the School of Executive Management at the University of Virginia.
Darrell and his young family then settled down in Seattle, where he was hired by Clipper Navigation, a new startup company providing passenger ferry service between Seattle, San Juan and Victoria, BC. He started as the second employee, but eventually became President, CEO and partial owner for 29 years.
In addition to joining the WTA board in 2011, Darrell was tapped for several other prestigious positions including by the US Secretary of Commerce to serve on the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board in 2014. In 2016, he accepted an interim CEO role at Interferry, an international organization of worldwide ferry operators. He also joined the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and Kitsap Transit in 2018.
As a WTA Board Member, Darrell was known for his humor and kindness, but also for moving the conversation forward when needed. “There are two types of people in this world,” said former WTA Board Member and CEO of Argosy Cruises, Kevin Clark. “People who light up a room when they walk in and those that light up a room when they walk out. Darrell was someone that truly brightened a gathering when he entered the room. Hospitality and service was in his DNA.”
The subscriber base of the ExperienceWA newsletter has grown considerably in 2019, while maintaining an engagement rate far higher than the industry average. The subscriber base has been bolstered by a sign-up mechanism attached to ordering the Official Washington Visitors’ Guide. This provides for a subscriber base who have already proved their interest in traveling to Washington.
As you plan for 2020, make sure to include advertising in the monthly newsletter. Improvements to the newsletter are coming, so lock in your position now. Each month there is only one Sponsor position available for $750 ($825 for non-members) and they go fast! Featured Content positions are also available. To learn more, click here for the ExperienceWA media kit. Contact Mike Moe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-444-0589 to set up your campaign.
GET A DISCOUNT TO ATTEND THE NORTHWEST EVENT TRADE SHOW! SAVE 25%!
The WTA is sponsoring the Northwest Event Show Nov 13-14 and YOU benefit. See where events are headed-at the 2019 Northwest Event Show. The Northwest Event Show is the place to access advanced educational sessions, meet expert speakers, discover new ideas and tools for innovation, and connect with the event community.
For your discount use code: WTA25VIP
25% Off All Show Passes
Register now here!
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 email@example.com.
The Washington Tourism Alliance is happy to announce the
release of an RFP to find a qualified entity with branding expertise to create a
statewide tourism marketing brand. A copy of the RFP can be found here.
The RFP includes the objective, scope of work, submission requirements, budget,
timeline and selection process.
We wanted to make sure that you as tourism professionals had
a copy of this document. Please feel free to circulate it to anyone who you
think might be interested and qualified. Thanks for your assistance in getting
the word out!