Early this year Governor Jay Inslee established a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Outdoor Recreation to develop a strategy, action plan and recommendations regarding Washington’s outdoor recreation assets and state programs. The task force is conducting its work over the summer, with a draft plan and recommendations due to the State in early September.
I am honored to have been appointed by the Governor to serve on the task force, representing the WTA and the tourism industry. The task force includes 17 voting members appointed by the Governor who represent a diversity of outdoor recreation interests, four members from the State Legislature and eight members representing State agencies. Several committees were formed to focusing on specific areas of study, including Economic Development, Meeting Future Recreation Needs, Getting More People Outdoors and The State Role in Providing Outdoor Recreation.
The task force has laid out a comprehensive process for public input into the study process. I invite you to visit the on-line engagement tool, www.engageoutdoorwashington.com. There you can contribute your thoughts and ideas and provide input to the topics and questions posed on the site. Also, task force meetings are scheduled around the state, are open public meetings, and provide an opportunity for comment and input. The next three meetings are scheduled for Spokane on June 10, Wenatchee on July 8, and Port Angeles on August 19. Additionally, task force information, including membership, meeting minutes and materials, relevant reports, studies and other reference material provided to the task force can be found at www.rco.wa.gov/boards/TaskForce.shtml.
WTA MAPS OUT PATH TO LONG TERM FUNDING
When HB 2229 was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Inslee, it set in motion a process to help WTA devise and implement a plan for funding a statewide marketing program. WTA must file a report with the legislature by December 1, 2014 which outlines how it will implement its program. To move forward on this task, the WTA Board has approved a plan that has three parts to it.
First, a group of representatives from key state agencies has been convened to help WTA discuss and solve technical and legal issues that arise with putting a long term funding program together. Topics of discussion include how best to protect funds collected for the marketing program and even more basically, how to technically collect assessments from parts of the industry.
Second, groups representing the five sectors proposed to be assessed are forming. Led by a WTA board member, each group will look at the characteristics of its sector and make recommendations about the best way to collect funds from the sector. These sectors include lodging, food service, attractions, transportation and retail. Additionally there will be a work group on “other” sectors including wineries, tribes, ports and other parts of the tourism industry.
Finally, a group is being formed to put some substance to the marketing program that will be the job of the WTA to implement. It will answer the question asked by many – what will the funds buy? This group will look at destination marketing and branding, tour and travel sales, digital media, destination development and international travel. It will be chaired by a WTA board member.
All of the work under this plan will be guided by a steering committee composed of WTA President Chery Kilday, past President Kevin Clark, long term funding committee chair Andy Olsen, executive director Louise Stanton-Masten and consultants Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick.
WASHINGTON STATE VISITOR CALL CENTER OPENS
Just in time for the high tourism season, the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) launched a call center for visitor information and assistance.
The ExperienceWA Call Center is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Travelers can call toll free at 1-800-544-1800.
The call center staff, who represented Washington State tourism for over five years in this capacity, are well versed on Washington State travel and can assist travelers who have questions, take orders for the Washington State Visitors’ Guide and refer them to specific destination marketing organizations and other travel resources across the state for more detailed information. Visitors can also email the call center at firstname.lastname@example.org to get their travel planning questions answered.
“We are delighted to have added this important travel resource for visitors to Washington State,” said Louise Stanton-Masten, WTA Executive Director. “It’s one more way that the WTA is making it easy to plan a trip to Washington, enticing prospective visitors to explore all that the state has to offer.”
Operation of the call center is supported by the bridge funding grant that the WTA received from the Washington State legislature last year. The WTA is contracting with VGP to provide call center services.
BEST WESTERN AND WTA PROMOTE WASHINGTON GOLF COURSES USING PINTEREST
The WTA is partnering with Best Western Hotels of Washington on a very exciting project- a golf promotion using Pinterest as a way to get out information about the golf courses in Washington State. Best Western will be posting photographs each month depicting the golf courses in Washington, with a link to their site.
You can help by providing images of golf courses in your community that Best Western may post on Pinterest. The photography rules are that whoever provides the imagery must own the rights or have permission to post them. Best Western will work with whoever provides the image to get consent to use the photo with a credit to them or they may purchase the image.
Please contact Rebecca Roth at Rebecca.Roth@bestwestern.com for more information or to send your images.
Thank you for helping to promote Washington State.
In April and May, the WTA teamed up with our web developer and online marketing partner Miles for an Educational Road Show. We presented research done by Miles including the State of the American Traveler and Creating and Tracking Effective Advertising Campaigns. We also demonstrated how tourism-related businesses can take advantage of the FREE advertising on ExperienceWA.com, as well as the paid opportunities. The Road Show was a huge success! In partnership with many local DMOs and Chambers of Commerce we presented in 13 different cities around the state to over 380 tourism professionals. One attendee told us that she “had never been to a better marketing workshop!” We know that it’s a very busy season and that many people weren’t able to make the Road Show. As a result, we are presenting the same information in a webinar at 9am on June 13th. Click this link to register!
MAXIMIZE YOUR PRESENCE ON THE WTA WEBSITE
Did you know that every tourism related business in Washington is entitled to a listing on the ExperienceWA website, www.experiencewa.com? If you are not listed on the website, please contact Mike Moe, WTA Director of Business Development and Media Sales at email@example.com.
For information on supporting tourism promotion in Washington State by linking your website to the ExperienceWA website, click here.
WTA MEMBERS IN THE NEWS
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 Louise Stanton-Masten at firstname.lastname@example.org
WTA WELCOMES APRIL MEMBERS
Hilton Bellevue, Skagit Valley Tourism, Skamania County COC, Snohomish County Tourism Bureau, Olympic Property Group, Seattle Seahawks, Travelodge Seattle Center,Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office, Squaxin Island Tribe Tourism Department, Port Madison Enterprises – Clearwater, Whidbey & Camano Island Tourism, Everett Community College, Willows Lodge, Courtyard Seattle Bellevue/Downtown, Residence Inn Seattle East/Redmond, Bogard & Johnson LLC, Washington Indian Gaming Association, Seattle Bed and Breakfast Association, Suquamish Tribe, Quincy Valley Tourism, The Davenport Hotel, Leavenworth COC, Arctic Club Seattle, Sheraton Seattle Hotel
If you have not yet joined the WTA and would like to become a member, please contact our Director of Business Development and Media Sales Mike Moe at email@example.com or join today online at http://watourismalliance.com/join.