WASHINGTON TOURISM ALLIANCE NAMES ANDI DAY BOARD OF DIRECTORS CHAIR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT:
Dave Blandford
206-713-8314/david@watourismalliance.com

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Board of Directors of the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) elected Andi Day Chair of its board of directors for a one-year term which began July 1, 2021. Day has been a member of the WTA board since 2012, has served on its executive committee and chaired its marketing advisory committee. 

     Day has been the Executive Director Pacific County Tourism Bureau (aka Visit Long Beach Peninsula) for the past nine years, leading the city and county’s tourism marketing programs and destination management programs and doubling organizational revenue in a five-year period. She also serves on Pacific County’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. She is noted for her commitment to sustainable tourism growth, rural economic development through sustainable tourism, bridging the urban-rural divide and improving quality of life, diversity, and economic mobility. 

     “Andi was a committed advocate for WTA’s enabling legislation in 2018, and she has played a critical role in re-establishing a functioning statewide tourism marketing program in the last three years,” said Shiloh Burgess, WTA’s immediate past board chair and Executive Director of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Andi’s marketing expertise, industry knowledge and commitment to the cause make her an ideal leader at this juncture of our development.” 

      “My primary objective is to strengthen WTA’s impact to bolster the recovery for Washington’s $13 billion tourism industry while rebuilding and growing our share of the visitor market,” said Day. “For the first time in a decade, we have the funding in place to roll out a robust brand marketing campaign to attract out of state visitors to our beautiful state and support refinements in our tourism product, particularly in rural areas.”

      Day leads the WTA’s Executive Committee. In addition to Burgess as Immediate Past Chair, Ron Peck with the Port of Seattle serves as Vice Chair, Skip Thompson with Boeing as Corporate Representative, Julie Eisenhower with Clark Number as Finance Chair, and Meg Winchester with Visit Spokane as Secretary. 

     Day is an active member of the WSU Alumni Association and serves on the Marketing Advisory Board of WSU’s Carson College of Business. She is also a board member and past president of the Washington State Destination Marketing Organization (WSDMO).

     An entrepreneur at heart, Day’s career started in retail as an owner/operator and then followed a marketing and promotion path. Her marketing experience includes tourism and events promotion in both the Greater Puget Sound area and in rural Pacific County.     

     A fourth generation Washingtonian, Day spent nearly 20 years active in the Pacific Northwest rowing community as a coach and coxswain.   

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 developing and 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

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WTA Appoints Board Members to Represent Industry Sectors of Lodging, Attractions, Education and Beer, Wine and Spirits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT:
Dave Blandford
206-713-8314/david@watourismalliance.com

The State of Washington – The Washington Tourism Alliance announced the appointment of four tourism industry professionals to its Board of Directors, each serving three-year terms to begin July 1, 2021.

     Heather Bradshaw, Communications Director at Washington State Wine will serve as the Beer, Wine and Spirits Representative on the WTA Board of Directors. In her current capacity, Bradshaw manages industry communications and media relations for the state’s wine industry. Bradshaw has been in the wine industry for 10 years, with previous experience at the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and Jackson Family Wines. She began her career as a journalist, working at TV stations in Yakima and Seattle.

     Megan Ching, General Manager for the Seattle Center Monorail, is appointed to serve on the WTA Board as its Attractions Sector Representative. Ching served seven years as President of the Puget Sound Attractions Council (PSAC) Board of Directors and more than a decade on the organization’s Executive Committee. The nonprofit cooperative marketing organization is comprised of premier attractions across the Puget Sound region. During Ching’s tenure at PSAC she inaugurated participation in travel trade initiatives to attract and increase visitation to Washington through participation in sales missions as well as tradeshows including U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow (IPW) and Icelandair’s Mid-Atlantic.

     Dipra Jha, Associate Professor in the Carson College of Business and Assistant Director of the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University (WSU), is appointed to serve as the Education Sector Representative on the WTA Board. Professor Jha is recognized as an expert in luxury hospitality and tourism strategy and is a recipient of the prestigious John Wiley & Sons Innovation in Teaching Award from the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (ICHRIE), among other honors. In addition to his WSU duties, Professor Jha collaborates with communities, government entities and private sector organizations in the United States and overseas on training, research, and outreach projects. His collaborations include Nebraska Tourism Commission, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce, Dubai-based Jumeirah Group, and the bespoke luxury brand Oberoi Hotels & Resorts. In 2019, he was conferred a rare and distinguished Doctor Honoris Causa by the Kyiv Cooperative Institute of Business and Law in Ukraine for his outstanding contributions to international education through virtual exchange.

          Ryan Malane, Vice President of Marketing and Co-Owner of Black Ball Ferry Line, will serve as the WTA’s Peninsulas Regional Representative. Malane has spent the past 20 years in senior marketing roles with some of the Pacific Northwest’s leading companies in the maritime, tourism, and advertising sectors. He currently serves on the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee for Clallam County and is a board member of Attractions Victoria as well as several other community organizations.

     Leslie Womack, Director of Sales at the historic Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle, will serve as the Lodging Sector Representative on the WTA Board of Directors. Womack has more than 30 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, including in the group sales program at Experience Music Project (now MoPop) in Seattle and as Regional Director with Aramark Park & Resorts where she lead the sales efforts for Lake Quinault and Kalaloch Lodges and lodges in Denali National Park in Alaska.  Womack has a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Fisk University and a Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. She earned her Certified Tour Professional (CTP) designation from the National Tour Association.  

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 developing and 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

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New Recreation App Improves Visitor Experience While Helping Protect Public Lands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2021

Media Contact:
Christina Pivarnik
(360) 531-0127/christina@pivarnik.com

One-Stop Resource Informed by Local Enthusiasts and Land Management Agencies

Available Now Through the Summer Recreation Season

Wenatchee, Wash. – The Washington Tourism Alliance announces a partnership with TREAD (Trails, Recreation, Education, Advocacy, Development) and Dharma Maps to deploy the new TREAD Map App pilot program that combines a consumer-facing location-based app with robust, real-time trail and recreational data, updates and advisories this spring and summer. The program is operational in the Trails and Lakes region of Central Washington (Kittitas, Grant, Douglas, Chelan, and Okanagan counties), where heavy public lands use is expected again this summer season and is expected to help recreationists improve their outdoor experiences while assisting public lands managers with user flow.

     TREAD, a Wenatchee 501c3 nonprofit with a primary goal of connecting all who care and use public lands, sought to enhance connection and improve the outdoor experience by working with Winthrop-based Dharma Maps to create the TREAD Map App as a hyper-local platform where diverse local and visiting recreationists can connect with each other and provide a portal for land managers can monitor, connect and advise. As a program partner and the state’s destination marketing organization, the WTA will encourage uploads and usage of the app through marketing and communications campaigns that reach Washington residents and travelers.

     The TREAD Map App offers comprehensive up-to-date recreation maps that include hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails, along with custom layers and up-to-the minute alerts with current safety information. The user interface allows land managers and recreationists to share current conditions, photos, weather information, tips on crowded trail heads with alternate suggestions and more.

     “Who better to advise recreationists than other recreationists,” said Mat Lyons, TREAD President. “Users care about the outdoor experience and are natural stewards of the environment. This app invites those who care to share what they love about Washington’s outdoor attractions while helping educated on our inherent responsibilities as recreationists.”

     “In addition to informing recreational enthusiasts, we hope this app will assist public land managers with a number of growing issues this summer season,” said Shiloh Burgess, WTA Board of Directors Chair and President of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. “From over-use of popular trails to wildfire and smoke alerts, avalanche warnings and other conditions, the TREAD Map App provides a go-to resource for up-to-the-moment updates and advisories.”

     “Dharma Maps is thrilled to bring the Tread Map collaborative platform to the Trails and Lakes Region of Washington which empowers recreation users, land managers and user groups to explore and enjoy our natural places and helps us to steward the places we love well into the future,” said Marc Rothmyer, CEO of Dharma Maps.

     The TREAD Map App can be downloaded for IOS at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/tread-map/id1497706353 or Android at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.treadmap.

      Following completion of this summer’s pilot program, partners will consider broadening TREAD Map App usage across 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 developing and 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

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 28, 2021

Media Contact:
Christina Pivarnik
(360) 531-0127/christina@pivarnik.com

Washington Tourism Alliance Names Michelle Thana
as Director of Marketing

SEATTLE – The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) announced the addition of Michelle Thana to the newly created role of Director of Marketing, effective May 17, 2021. Thana will lead the organization’s consumer marketing program, including strategic planning, consumer campaigns, advertising, direct marketing, social media and destination brand marketing and communications.

Thana most recently served as Director of Marketing at Visit Vancouver USA. From 2019 to present she directed the organization’s marketing, creative and communications programs. She managed marketing and advertising agencies and led brand development, as well as contributing to the organization’s long-term vision and planning.

From 2014 to 2019, Thana served on Travel Portland’s marketing team, first as Marketing Coordinator and then as Marketing Manager. In the latter role, Thana implemented annual marketing campaigns that attracted overnight visitors, managed consumer and social media agencies and strengthened collaboration between the consumer agency, internal digital team and digital agency. Thana also coordinated cross-departmental campaigns for domestic and international travelers and worked closely with the organization’s overseas marketing team.

From 2013 to 2014, Thana served as Lead Creative Strategist at Brandefied, where she managed more than 300 Facebook and Google ad campaigns, developed and executed digital marketing plans for clients and managed content fulfillment for clients company-wide.

“Michelle knows destination marketing across platforms and has strong experience at the national and global levels, as well the local and community levels,” said David Blandford, WTA Executive Director. “The entire WTA team is excited to welcome her, and we know her experience and leadership will be key to growing statewide tourism marketing programs that help travel, tourism and hospitality communities and businesses recover while fostering future resiliency.”

Thana’s professional distinctions include being named to Destinations Council’s Emerging Leaders and Destinations International’s 30 Under 30.

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 developing and 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

Click here for the full press release.

Walla Walla Named Wine Region of the Year by USA Today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2020

WTA Media Contact:
Christina Pivarnik
(360) 531-0127
christina@pivarnik.com

Walla Walla, Wash. – USA Today readers named Washington’s Walla Walla Valley as America’s Best Wine Region, announced today in the publication’s prestigious 2020 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards. This is the first first-place win for the Walla Walla Valley, though it has been selected as a finalist for the award three consecutive years.

 This this year’s finalists were narrowed from a field of 250 wine-growing regions to 20 finalists by a panel of wine industry experts before USA Today readers voted. Additionally, USA readers names Long Shadows Vintners as fourt-best tasting room for the second consecutive year.

The Walla Walla Valley, located in the state’s south east, is home to more than 120 wineries, a growing and nationally recognized culinary scene, a range of outdoor recreation and arts and entertainment attractions. The region, and the town of Walla Walla, are a four-hour drive from Seattle through some of Washington’s other noted wine regions. The Walla Walla Valley is also served by nonstop flights via Alaska Airlines. For more information on the Walla Walla Valley and its wines, visit www.wallawalla.org or www.wallawallawine.com.

In addition to the Walla Walla Valley’s first-place win in Best Wine Region category, Long Shadows Vintners took fourth place in the Best Tasting Room category for the second consecutive year.

“I can think of no better way to honor wines from Washington state in general, and Walla Walla Valley wines specifically, than being recognized as America’s Best Wine Region by a vote of the public,” said Robert Hansen, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “It’s a testament to the outstanding terroir, meticulous craftsmanship, and to the men and women who are committed to elevating the Walla Walla Valley from both a wine production and tourism perspective.”

A panel of five wine industry experts chose 20 finalists from a list of more than 250 American wine-growing regions. The public was then asked to vote daily for their favorite region between July 13 and Aug. 12.

“The Walla Walla Valley is no stranger to being recognized for the quality of its wines and the experience that awaits those who visit, including being recognized as America’s Best Wine Town in the 2018 Sunset Travel Awards,” said Visit Walla Walla board chair Tabitha Crenshaw. “Given today’s proliferation of American wines and wine regions, this is a particularly proud moment. It is truly special when the very people who purchase and enjoy your wines, and who choose to visit our incredible community, validate the quality and experience you are striving to achieve.”

For more information on the Walla Walla Valley and its wines, visit www.wallawalla.org or www.wallawallawine.com.

About Walla Walla:

As the unofficial capital of Washington wine country, Walla Walla is home to more than 120 wineries, a nationally recognized culinary scene, access to an abundance of outdoor recreation, and an arts & entertainment scene that rivals cities many times its size. This community of just over 30,000 residents is known for many things, including its friendliness and hospitality, the quality of its wine, and of course the famous Walla Walla Sweet Onion. An easy and scenic four-hour drive from Seattle, Portland, or Boise, Walla Walla can also be accessed via Alaska Airlines daily non-stop flights from Seattle. For more information and to begin planning a trip to Walla Walla, visit www.wallawalla.org.

About the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance:

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a nonprofit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is to build an internationally acclaimed Walla Walla Valley wine brand among consumers, media, and trade by providing marketing programs on behalf of member wineries, vineyards, and partners.  The Wine Alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media, and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry.

WTA and Port of Seattle Partner in Travel and Tourism Recovery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2020

WTA Media Contact:
David Blandford
(206) 713-8314/david@watourismalliance.com

SEATTLE – On July 28, the Port of Seattle Commission voted unanimously to authorize a $1.5 million joint marketing agreement with Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA), the state’s non-profit tourism marketing agency, to promote tourism recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This agreement, funded by the Port property tax levy, will help stimulate the region’s economic recovery by regenerating interest in travel to Seattle and Washington state in the U.S. and Canada while emphasizing travel in alignment with public health guidelines.  

 The strategic recovery plan will focus on stimulating in- and out-of-state tourism in alignment with state public health and policy guidelines. The multi-tiered program will include consumer marketing, public education and a “responsible travel” public education campaign, advertising, public relations, social media and travel trade development, in addition to industry recovery programs, technical assistance and business recovery programs for small businesses and rural or underserved communities.

The tourism industry has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Tourism industry job losses represent some 40 percent of all job losses in Washington State, according to data released by the WTA in June. March through June 2020, visitor spending in Washington declined $3.8 billion compared with 2019, and traveler spending averaged losses of 77 percent. Through June, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – the state’s air gateway – weekly volume averaged 15,500, down 75 percent.

Nationally, many estimates call for sustained travel and tourism industry recovery over the next three years. The U.S. Travel Association estimates that COVID-19 will be nine times more impactful to the U.S. travel and tourism industry than 9/11, and that travel Industry losses will result in a GDP impact of $1.2 trillion on U.S. economy.

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

Newly Released State Tourism Statistics Mark Stunning Decline from Coronavirus Between 2019 and 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2020

Media Contact:
Christina Pivarnik
(360) 531-0127/christina@pivarnik.com

Impact Underscores Role of Industry as Economic Driver During Recovery

Olympia, Wash. – Figures released today by the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) indicate that tourism in Washington State logged double digit growth during the past five years – generating $10.9 billion in direct state GDP in 2019 alone – before the industry’s near total shut down in 2020 due to COVID-19.

     Visitor volume, expenditures, tax contributions and tourism jobs all increased in 2019, according to Economic Impacts of Visitors in Washington State, compiled by national travel research firm Tourism Economics for the WTA.  Visitor volume increased by 2.0 percent last year to a total of 110 million visitors in the state, and direct visitor spending totaled $21.9 billion, up 4.5 percent in current dollars over 2018. On average, visitors spent $60 million per day in Washington State last year.

     However, Washington State has experienced a dramatic decline in tourism in 2020 due to the global pandemic. Since the beginning of March, visitor spending in Washington has declined by $3.8 billion compared with last year’s figures. Traveler spending in Washington has averaged losses of 77 percent over the past 12 weeks. Hotel room revenue alone has declined 72 percent between March 1 and May 23. And in April alone, Seattle Tacoma International Airport experienced a decrease of 93.6 percent in passenger volume, compared with April 2019; international traffic decreased 97.1 percent and domestic traffic decreased 93.1 percent.

     “Our state’s tourism industry has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said WTA Interim Executive Director David Blandford. “That impact was sudden and severe in every industry sector and immediately undercut funding for nonprofit destination marketing programs needed to jumpstart economic recovery and sustain jobs.”

     Continued loss of tourism jobs in Washington remains a major concern – in the tourism industry and beyond. The state’s tourism industry supported more than 165,000 jobs in 2019, an increase of 2.3 percent over the previous year, and these jobs generated direct income of $5.7 billion. While these tourism industry jobs represent 3.5 percent of all jobs in the state, the economic activity supported by visitors supports a total of 5.1 percent of all jobs in Washington.

     This year, COVID-19 has acutely damaged employment in Washington State’s travel sector, according to Tourism Economics’ analysis. Job losses within the leisure and hospitality sector represented 42 percent of all job losses in the state through the end of April. Through the week ending May 16, there have been 1.2 million unemployment claims in Washington. This implies over half a million jobs lost in the leisure and hospitality sector.

     “Because such a large share of job losses are related to travel, an economic recovery can only come through a restoration of travel to and within Washington state,” said Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics.     

     The loss of taxes paid by visitors also deeply impacts the tourism industry, as well as Washington citizens and cities and counties throughout the state. Each household in Washington would need to be taxed an additional $1,065 to replace the visitor taxes received by state and local governments last year. State and local taxes, generated by direct visitor spending, tallied nearly $2.4 billion in 2019, a 5.4% increase over 2018.

     Transient occupancy taxes (lodging taxes) – which have quickly declined amid the pandemic – are imposed in all of Washington’s 39 counties (by both counties and many cities within) and revenue derived from lodging taxes supports tourism related facilities, events and marketing. The severe shortfall in lodging tax receipts has also deeply impacted the state’s non-profit destination marketing organizations (DMOs) with drastic reductions to tourism marketing programs and staff layoffs of 30-70 percent.

     “While a full recovery will likely take several years, we’re hopeful that a rebound in travel and tourism can begin in earnest this summer, and accelerate as we move into 2021,” said Blandford. “Our industry is prepared to do its part by promoting safe and responsible travel, but investment in tourism marketing and recovery is critical to its ability to recover visitor volume, expenditures, tax revenue and employment for our state,” said Blandford.

     This is the first year that the WTA has collaborated with Tourism Economics to compile its annual state visitation report. In addition to this benchmark 2019 report, The WTA asked

Tourism Economics to include a five-year look back report to ensure consistency in annual reporting. According to the reports, between 2015 and 2019, Washington State achieved double digit tourism growth. Visitor spending increased 4.8 percent per annum between 2015 and 2019 and tourism employment saw cumulative growth of 15 percent.

Washington State Tourism Research Snapshot

2019 Tourism Impact

  • Visitor volume increased by 2.0 percent last year to a total of 110 million visitors in Washington in 2019
  • Direct visitor spending totaled $21.9 billion, up 4.5 percent in current dollars over 2018
  • On average, visitors spent $60 million per day in Washington State in 2019
  • Statewide, the tourism industry supported more than 165,000 jobs in 2019, generating $5.7 billion in direct income
  • State and local taxes, generated by direct visitor spending, tallied nearly $2.4 billion in 2019.  Each household in Washington would need to be taxed an additional $1,065 to replace the visitor taxes received by state and local governments last year

2020 Impact of Covid-19 on Washington State Tourism

  • Since March 1, visitor spending in Washington has declined by $3.8 billion compared with last year’s figures
  • Traveler spending in Washington has averaged losses of 77 percent over the past 12 weeks
  • Hotel room revenue alone has declined 72 percent between March 1 and May 23
  • In select cities and communities hotel occupancy has dropped in to the single digits
  • Transient occupancy taxes (lodging taxes), which are imposed in all 39 counties (by both counties and cities) have quickly declined amid the pandemic
  • The dramatic loss of lodging taxes will impact destination marketing organizations, as well influence city and county governments budget and expenses statewide
  • For the month of April 2020, Seattle Tacoma International Airport experienced a decrease of 93.6 percent over April of 2019.  International traffic was down by 97.1 percent and domestic passenger traffic dropped 93.1 percent
  • As of April 30, job losses within the leisure and hospitality sector represented 42 percent of all job losses in the state
  • Through May 16, there have been 1.2 million unemployment claims in Washington, which represents over half a million jobs lost in the leisure and hospitality sector

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

WTA Media Contact: Mike Moe (425) 444-0589/mike@watourismalliance.com

WTA Names David Blandford as Interim Executive Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2020

Media Contact:
Christina Pivarnik
(360) 531-0127/christina@pivarnik.com

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.”

The Washington Tourism Alliance Launches showWAlove.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2020

Media Contact:
Christina Pivarnik
(360) 531-0127/christina@pivarnik.com

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) today launched showWAlove.com, a new online program to help support local Washington businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Data from national tourism research firm Tourism Economics estimates that 4.6 million U.S. travel industry jobs may be lost by May 31 – roughly 40 percent of all tourism-related jobs. That constitutes more than 75,000 jobs in Washington State and means local restaurants, hotels, attractions, tour operators, and destination marketing organizations will bear the brunt of these losses.

Buy Now. Play Later.

While social distancing restrictions are in effect, the showWAlove.com offers a platform for Washingtonians to help hard-working business owners and employees. People can support their favorite local businesses by purchasing gift cards for future use. They can search for restaurants, lodgings and retail establishments by region or type of business and then connect with that business to buy gift cards.  

Business Assistance

Hundreds of businesses have gift card offers on showWAlove.com and inventory continues to grow. Businesses that don’t currently offer gift cards will be able to learn how to expand their online presence on the showWAlove.com website through webinars and additional resources. The WTA is committed to helping the small businesses in Washington use every tool available to get through this uncertain time.

“Recovery has to begin now,” said David Blandford, WTA Co-Chair. “This is just one initial measure of support and others will follow. We hope this program can help stabilize businesses and preserve jobs. Together we can show Washington’s tourism industry love during this unprecedented crisis.”

About the Washington Tourism Alliance

The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) is a 501[c]6 organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission to develop and sustain 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

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