Press Release – 4.5.12

State Tourism Summit Takes Place Today, Industry Celebrates Milestone

Washington Tourism Alliance Celebrates its First Year of Operation,
Convenes Industry to Discuss the Future of State Tourism Marketing,

President of U.S. Travel Association Delivers Keynote Address

 SEATTLE– The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) will host a state Tourism Summit inSeattletoday to present its first-year accomplishments and to engage the tourism industry in its future direction. Some 400 Industry stakeholders from hotels, airlines, cruise lines, tour companies, restaurants and convention and visitor bureaus will attend. National tourism industry leaders will speak of President Obama’s recent executive order to develop a first-ever national strategy on tourism, and will addressWashington’s challenges as the only state in the union without a state-funded tourism program.

One year after Governor Gregoire’s announcement that the state tourism office would close, this summit will feature a presentation by the WTA of its first-year destination marketing activities and discussion of possible solutions for long-term sustainable funding. A keynote address will be given by Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, and representatives of BrandUSA, the recently inaugurated U.S.corporation dedicated to travel promotion.

“Tourism promotion is at a critical juncture inWashington,D.C.and here inWashingtonState,” said Suzanne Fletcher, WTA Executive Director. “We’re encouraged by long-overdue progress at the national level, but here at home we have an incredible amount of work to do.Washingtonis the only state in theU.S.without a state-supported tourism program, so WTA’s success is inextricably bound by the combined commitment of our private sector industry, ports, cities and corporate sponsors.”

Washington’s primary competing states all boast dramatically larger tourism marketing budgets, ranging between $10 and $60 million. WTA began work with a budget of some $300,000 last July when the state tourism office closed, and has since been working to raise funds through membership and corporate sponsorships.

WashingtonStatetourism leaders understand how quicklyWashingtonStatecould be out-paced. “We know from national examples that tourism market share declines very quickly with the loss of tourism marketing programs,” said Fletcher. “Coloradoclosed its tourism office in the 1990s and suffered immediate declines in tourism market share that did not rebound for nearly a decade.”

Much is at stake. Tourism is the state’s fourth-largest industry according to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) produced, following software, aerospace and agriculture and food. Figures released last month by WTA indicate that visitors toWashingtonStatespent $16.4 billion and generated nearly $1 billion in local and state tax revenues in 2011. Travel and tourism supported more than 150,000, jobs and generated earnings (payroll) of $4.5 million.

The tourism summit will be held at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center Emerald Room) in SeaTac on April 5. Registration opens at 7 a.m. and the program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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 WashingtonStatedestination tourism marketing. The WTA procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements a strategic statewide destination marketing plan.

Media Contact:

David Blandford

c: (206) 713-8314