August/September Newsletter

Mike Moe

The 2016 Washington Tourism Summit will be held on October 14th at the Crowne Plaza in SeaTac. This year we will present a new legislative plan that will create a long-term funding source for a statewide tourism marketing effort. As our members and industry partners know, a legislative taskforce has been meeting regularly this summer to develop our long-term funding plan that will be presented as legislation during the 2017 congressional session. This task force includes members of legislature from both the House and Senate and each of the political caucuses, as well as WTA board members.

The morning session will include members of the legislative task force who will provide an update on the legislative plan. The afternoon session will include a Rally for Success – the 2017 Grassroots Launch where you will learn how to mobilize your community to help pass this important legislation. This year we need all hands on deck and we will provide you with the tools and information you need to support this effort. Chris Ihrig, CEO of Fired-Up! Culture, will provide an exciting wrap up at the end of the session to crystallize the important messages of the day and finish the Summit on an enthusiastic and positive note.

We are pleased to announce that Roger Dow, the President and CEO of the US Travel Association will be the keynote speaker for this year’s Summit. Since 2005, Roger has led the US Travel Association and has been instrumental in transforming the organization into one of the most effective industry associations in the country.


“This year’s tourism Summit will be the most important to date!” said Christina Pivarnik, WTA Board member and Chair of the Summit Planning Committee. “We are excited to welcome Roger Dow as our keynote speaker and look forward to presenting the new WTA plan for legislation that will provide long-term funding for a sustainable statewide marketing effort. After hearing your feedback from previous Summits, we are also going to provide plenty of networking time so you can catch up with your colleagues from across the state. Please plan to join us in October!”

Please join us for an afternoon reception following the general session, where you can visit vendor tables, enjoy light hor d’oeuvres served and a no host bar, and network with your industry colleagues. Space is limited this year, so don’t wait to register! Please click here to view the full schedule and to reserve your spot.




Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick  
State legislators who have voluntarily focused on finding a solution to funding a coordinated statewide tourism effort have met three times over the summer. Most recently they met in early September. They will continue their discussions into the fall with the goal of having a proposal for the 2017 legislative session.
The legislators engaged in this workgroup clearly understand the value of having a coordinated statewide tourism marketing program and are well aware of the return on investment it will deliver to local and the state economies. This is why all are adamant that the state must be engaged and allocate funding into whatever program is developed. The challenge, however, is finding the funding because of the massive budget constraints the legislature faces as a result of Supreme Court mandated orders to fund basic education and mental health services.
The first two workgroup meetings concentrated primarily on examining how other states fund tourism efforts, understanding the complex state and local lodging tax structure, past legislative proposals, possible other tax options and funding mechanisms, and tools for determining ROI. The third meeting focused on delving into the components of a legislative proposal that would be both practically and philosophically acceptable within the legislature and the tourism industry.
The general consensus of the group seems to be a conceptual proposal that is a public-private partnership, not a state run program. The industry would be responsible for implementing and managing the program and the state’s role would be focused on generating some, if not all, of the funds. The state would also be responsible for providing the basic parameters of the program through a contract with a non-profit marketing entity and for evaluating the effectiveness of the program’s ability to create jobs and returning tax dollars to the state.
The difficult part, of course, is how to fund the program. The first decision was how much would provide for an adequate program. While the request under previous legislation was for a $7.5 million program annually, after reviewing other state programs and levels of funding the general consensus of the group is that an annual target of $15 million would be necessary to be competitive and successful. How to generate the $15 million and how much of that is appropriated directly from the state and how much is generated from the industry and through what mechanism remains the challenge and is now where a majority of the group’s work will be focused.
A straight dollar appropriation from the state’s general fund is not likely given budget constraints, nor is it desired primarily because it does not create a long term mechanism that would provide stability and ensure future stream of funding.
Some potential options discussed include a phased-in approach of the state funding:
  • start-up funding that would expire once an industry-based mechanism is generating funds;
  • identifying current taxes, with a nexus to tourism, a portion of which or an increased amount could be repurposed to the program;
  • identifying where and what state agencies are currently spending on tourism related marketing efforts (e.g. state ferries) and using these funds in a more strategic way;
  • tax credits directed to a program; and
  • generating new revenues through a voluntary fee structure collected by the state.
While there is much work still to be done, great strides have been made in just three meetings resulting in a general consensus on fundamental components to the proposal. The energy of the workgroup continues to be positive and the WTA staff is keeping the momentum going with now putting concepts to paper for the group to consider.


Cheryl Kilday, President & CEO, Visit Spokane, WTA Board Chair

The WTA board of directors has added to our team of professionals for our stronger, more robust grassroots campaign for the 2017 legislative session. We are excited about the team and their roles to help get legislation passed to fund a sustainable tourism promotion for all of Washington state.

Our grassroots effort campaign is being coordinated by Washington state native Barbara Smith. Barbara is the owner of Harris & Smith Public Affairs and has years of experience running successful campaigns to secure legislative support. Barbara has more than 20 years of experience working with tourism related projects and understands of our challenges and opportunities. Her email address – you may hear from her soon so please respond with enthusiasm to help build our grassroots network. We will be ready to go into action as the legislative plans are finalized. The full campaign will be launched at theOctober 14 Tourism Summit so don’t miss it!
The legislative team continues to be led by Becky Bogard with Kathryn Hedrick and with the addition of Marian Ericks of the Washington Restaurant and Lodging Association. This trio of experts is already working with representatives from all four caucuses to develop a legislative strategy and build support. They have made significant headway in preparing for the legislative session.

Another new team member is Megan Folkestad, our key communication and coordinator point person supporting our public affairs between the grassroots and legislative teams. Megan is experienced with legislative policy, communications, and knows the legislators and their aides. She will quickly coordinate meetings, communication strategies, etc. You may also soon hear from Megan encouraging you to participate in meetings, hearings, and signing letters to support our legislative and grassroots efforts. Her email is

The WTA board and staff are prepared to do whatever we can to actively implement the strategies to help us succeed. Our key point WTA staff person is Mike Moe, Associate Director. Mike will continue to sell advertising on the website and eNewsletters while expanding his role to include more advocacy assignments. Diana Thibado is our WTA office “secret weapon” and has expanded her hours to act as our administrator for membership, advertising sales, and coordinating the WTA board and committee meetings.

Our board of directors will be the face of the tourism industry representing our shared objectives to support and pass legislation at hearings, meetings, and with media.

All of Washington State will prosper greatly from a state-wide tourism program so we aren’t holding anything back. We are counting on your support, enthusiasm, and energy to win big in the 2017 session! Our optimism will become a reality with your help!


The 2016 Washington Tourism Summit is the best event to connect with tourism industry partners from all over Washington State. Hundreds of members of the industry will converge on the Crowne Plaza in SeaTac to discuss the new legislative plan and to network. This year’s event will include plenty time in the morning and a reception in the afternoon for participants to have time to mingle with vendors. Free tickets come with every sponsorship as well as prominent display of your logo. For only $300, you can purchase a vendor table. There are also opportunities for time on the microphone in front of hundreds of tourism professionals.

Click here to see the different sponsorship opportunities. Please contact Mike Moe at or call him at 425-444-0589 for further details.


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 Diana Thibado at




360 Hotel Group, Adrift Hotel, Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, Butler Transportation, City of Port Angeles, Clark Nuber, PS, Columbia Hospitality, Colville Chamber of Commerce,Forks Chamber of Commerce, Four Seasons Hotel Seattle,Fran’s Chocolates, The Herbfarm, Holiday Inn Express – Bellingham, Homewood Suites – Richland, Homewood Suites – Seattle, Hotel Andra, Maryhill Winery, Northwest Travel Magazine, Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau, Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission, Paradisos del Sol Winery, Port of Chelan County, Quality Inn Valley Suites, Saga City Media, Sheraton Bellevue Hotel, Skagit Valley Tourism, Tillicum Village, Visit Kitsap Peninsula, Visit Rainier, Washington Restaurant Association, Washington State University, Washington State Wine Commission,Whidbey & Camano Island Tourism, Yakima Valley Tourism
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 or join today online here.