March 12, 2013
Industry gathers, Governor Inslee speaks in support of funding for tourism marketing – just as new state tourism impact numbers are released
SEATTLE – The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) will convene its third, statewide Tourism Summit today in Olympia to present a “state of the industry” and engage tourism stakeholders in discussions of its future funding, marketing programs and legislative agenda.
Governor Inslee will deliver the keynote address to some 200 attendees from destination marketing organizations, hotels, visitor attractions, tour and transportation companies, restaurants, retail establishments, meeting venues and other private and public sector organizations. Last month, the governor released his Working Washington Agenda which references the importance of re-engaging tourism – the state’s fourth largest export industry according to Gross Domestic Product – following the closure of the state tourism office nearly two years ago.
“We are so encouraged to have the support of Governor Inslee at this critical juncture for our industry,” said Louise Stanton-Masten, WTA Executive Director. “We’ve accomplished a great deal in the past two years, but we know that to stay competitive in a very competitive industry we’ll need the support of both the private and public sectors as we go forward.”
Figures released today by WTA indicate that tourism in Washington State improved slightly in 2012, thanks to the national economic recovery which spurred 5.2 percent growth in U.S. tourism. However, visitation to Washington State lagged behind the U.S. with just 2.1 percent growth. The state saw some 36.4 million total overnight person trips in 2012, and those visitors spent $16.9 billion, up 4.4 percent over 2011. As with the increase in visitor spending, total local and state tax receipts generated by travel spending increased 4.9 percent to just over $1 billion – the equivalent of $390 for every resident household in Washington State.
Travel and tourism supported more than 153,300 jobs in 2012, up 2.7 percent, and generated earnings (payroll) of $4.7 billion.
“Despite some incremental growth, we worry that tourism in Washington is not keeping pace,” said Stanton-Masten. “It’s critical that we address our competitive disadvantage to Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California – and every other state for that matter – all of which boast dramatically larger tourism marketing budgets and are poised to capture our share of the lucrative tourism market.”
Competing western state tourism budgets range from $10 and $60 million. Comparatively, WTA began work with a budget of some $300,000 when the state tourism office closed and has worked to sustain it by raising incremental funds through membership and corporate sponsorships.
Today’s tourism summit will feature a presentation by the WTA of its current destination marketing activities and discussion of possible solutions for short- and long-term sustainable funding. The tourism summit will be held at the Washington Center for Performing Arts in Olympia from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by a tourism industry reception at the Governor’s Mansion in the evening. Registration for both is required. Follow on Twitter at #WTASummit.
Last year, President Obama announced an executive order that will establish a first-ever national strategy for travel and tourism.
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 WashingtonState 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