June 2015 Newsletter

Louise Stanton-Masten     

Each year the WTA publishes an annual statewide travel data report. Research conducted by Dean Runyan Associates for the WTA documents visitor spending, tourism employment, tax revenue and other statistics. The WTA released preliminary data from this year’s report that indicates that tourism in Washington State improved slightly in 2014, but inconsistently throughout various counties in Washington and comparatively slower than the state’s overall taxable sales growth. We believe that the report underscores the need for long-term marketing funding and for interim funding from the Legislature for the WTA this year.

 Direct visitor spending in Washington was $19 billion in 2014, up 5 percent over 2013, according to the State Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume 1991 -2014 report. This compares with 7.1 percent growth in overall state taxable sales during the same period, according to figures released by the Washington State Department of Commerce.

 WTA’s new research also reported on tourism employment and tax revenue. The travel and tourism industry supported more than 163,400 jobs in 2014, up 2.7 percent from 2013. Local and state travel-generated tax revenue was $1.1 billion, representing roughly 6.1 percent of all state and local tax revenues and generating $410 in tax revenue for each Washington household.

 A copy of the Executive Summary of the report can be found on the WTA website.

We believe that the research underscores the importance of the tourism marketing programs that the WTA has been doing with our limited funding, which include the ExperienceWA.com destination website, Washington State Visitors’ Guide, call center and international marketing, and for a long-term, industry led and funded tourism marketing program.

As WTA Board Chair Cheryl Kilday said, “Robust worldwide travel, combined with the individual tourism marketing investments of the state’s major cities, port districts, local tourism promotion areas and private sector companies, have helped buoy our industry for the past four years since the state tourism office closed. And we’re also grateful for interim funding from the legislature the past two years which has helped sustain our state visitor guide, web site, visitor call center and other essential visitor services. This support, in conjunction with the nation-wide travel and tourism growth trend, has been absolutely critical to keeping Washington tourism alive until our industry funding plan can be deployed.”

However we are concerned about loss of tourism market share in the absence of a legislatively approved, industry funded long-term marketing program. And our latest research has shown a disparity in tourism impacts in eastern and western Washington and we believe that our tourism marketing investment must be statewide to make a broad impact.

This year our long-term funding legislation for statewide tourism marketing was introduced in Olympia and received significant support but ran out of time for approval. Plans are underway to continue the approval process in the next session and secure passage of this important legislation.

Becky Bogard   

When the final proposal for the 2015-17 biennium budget was released on Monday afternoon, sadly there was no funding to continue the tourism activities funded in the current biennium budget. While the Senate proposed budget included funding for the tourism activities, the House budget did not. WTA and its allies mounted a campaign to get the funds included in the final proposal.

WTA had requested that the same level of funding — $500,000 for each year of the biennium – be included to give some more time to work out a proposal for an industry funded and industry controlled long term plan. The funds would have continued the support for the website, the call center, postage for the guide, the international program and research. In the coming weeks the WTA board and staff will be assessing the impact of the loss of these funds and how to proceed during the next year.

This has been a very difficult budget year with the majorities in the House and the Senate disagreeing on their approaches. One wanted new revenues through additional taxes; the other wanted no new taxes believing that the natural growth of state revenues provided significant funding to do what was necessary. The legislature was also charged with providing significant additional funding for K-12 education pursuant to the Washington State Supreme Court order in the McCleary decision. Another court decision relating to the treatment of the mentally ill also put additional stress on the budget. There were demands for COLA’s for teachers and state employee salary increases. In the end, the demands were simply greater than the funds available.

While we are disappointed, WTA and its members need to move forward to refine and gain support for a long term funding plan. Within the next month, there will be additional information on how we will go forward with this task.

IPW 2015
John Cooper, WTA Board of Directors and Director, President and CEO, Yakima Valley Tourism
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A team of six traveled to IPW15 in Orlando last month to promote Washington State to international tour operators and media. IPW (also known as Pow Wow) is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S. Attendees include U.S. exhibitors, international and domestic travel buyers and journalists.  In three days of intensive pre-scheduled appointments, more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations from every region of the U.S., and close to 1,200 international and domestic buyers from more than 70 countries conducted business negotiations that are expected to result in $4.7 billion in future USA travel.WTA created a double booth this year which meant twice the appointments. In total, nearly 95 operators and media were assisted. Attending the show this year were Louise Stanton-Masten of WTA, John Cooper of Yakima Valley Tourism, Marsha Massey of the Olympic Pennisula Visitors Bureau, Patty Denny of the Port of Seattle and Kyla Cavanagh with the Olympia – Lacey – Tumwater VCB. Former Port of Seattle employee B.J. Stokey coordinated the WTA presence at the show.

Louise Stanton-Masten 

The WTA is pleased to welcome Andi Day to the WTA Board of Directors. Andi was appointed this month as the Washington State Destination Marketing Organization (WSDMO) representative to the Board. She fills a position formerly held by George Sharp, who retired as Executive Director of Visit Olympia- Lacy-Tumwater. We thank George for his long-time service and dedication to the WTA.

Andi is the Executive Director of the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. She is a fourth generation Washingtonian, grew up in the tourism and commercial fishing industries and is a proud WSU Cougar. Andi has an extensive professional background in marketing and business and is passionate about promoting Washington State. She served this past year on the WTA marketing committee. We are pleased to welcome Andi to the WTA Board of Directors.

Mike Moe  

The Washington Tourism Alliance has teamed up with KING 5 to bring our members and advertisers a chance to be featured on the ExperienceWA website as well as on the iconic KING 5 televisions shows Evening and New Day Northwest. This rare opportunity will give your business or destination the possibility to be showcased to viewers all throughout the Northwest on the KING 5 family of networks, as well as to the word on ExperienceWA.com, Washington’s website for tourism information.

In this collaboration, the editors of the ExperienceWA.com website will write an article about your destination or business. You will work with an experienced editor who will work directly with you to create a feature length article that will be promoted and linked throughout ExperienceWA.com from open display inventory. The entire article page will be devoted to your business, and the display advertising space on that page will also be yours providing links to your website. The article is live on the site for a full year – but you’ll own the content forever with the ability to repost the information wherever you choose.

To make an even stronger impression, you can bundle your article with a shout-out or in-studio segment on New Day Northwest, or a story shot on-location on Evening! Content on these two celebrated TV shows will give you the chance to reach affluent Northwest natives right in their living rooms. After being aired on KING 5, these segments will be replayed again on KONG TV or Northwest Cable News and streamed on king5.com. To reach an even broader audience, your video will also be accessible on king5.com for 18 months with a link provided to embed on your site and for sharing via social media.  Additionally, there will be linked to your ExperienceWA article.

During this promotion, you will receive significant discounts for these products. This is your opportunity to showcase your experience like never before! For more details contact Mike Moe at mike@watourismalliance.com or 425-444-0589, or contact Leah Matteo at lmatteo@king5.com or 206-448-3173. Click here to see the ExperienceWA.com Media Kit.