This week the WTA joins with other tourism organizations from around our state and nation to recognize and celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week-America’s annual salute to travel and tourism. The event was established by a congressional resolution in 1983 and serves to recognize the economic power of the tourism industry.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. in 2015 averaged $2.6 billion a day and had a total economic benefit of $2.1 trillion, which included $947.1 billion in direct travel expenditures and an additional $1.2 trillion from related industries. Nationally, 15.1 million jobs and $231.6 billion in wages were supported by travel expenditures, with one out of nine jobs in the U.S. dependent on travel and tourism. $147.9 billion of tax revenue was generated by travel spending for federal, state and local governments.
In conjunction with National Travel and Tourism week, the WTA last week released Washington State 2015 travel research. According to preliminary data compiled for the WTA by Dean Runyan Associates in the reportState Travel Impacts & Visitor Volume 2000 -2015, tourism in Washington State improved slightly in 2015, but inconsistently throughout various counties in Washington and comparatively slower than the state’s overall taxable sales growth.
The total number of overnight person-trips (39.4 million) increased by 3.1 percent in 2015, similar to the preceding year. Direct visitor spending in Washington was $20.7 billion in 2015, up 5.4 percent in current dollars over 2014, which compares with 6.8 percent growth in overall state taxable sales during the same period, according to figures released by the Washington State Department of Revenue.
WTA’s research also reported on tourism employment and tax revenue. The travel and tourism industry supported more than 170,500 jobs in 2015, up 3.8 percent from 2014. Local and state travel-generated tax revenue was $1.8 billion, an 8 percent increase over 2014; this is equivalent to $650 in tax revenue for each Washington household. This includes $1.2 billion in tax revenues directly related to the purchases of visitors and $610 million in tax revenues attributable to travel industry employees and businesses.
The research serves to illustrate a disparity in the tourism impacts in eastern and western Washington and in the urban and rural parts of the state. For example, while total direct visitor spending increased by 5.4% overall for Washington State last year, when King County is excluded the statewide increase is only 2.5%.
The WTA believes that the research underscores the importance of maintaining the WTA’s current marketing programs while continuing our efforts to secure adequate long-term, industry led funding for programs which will benefit the entire state.
DISCUSSIONS BEGIN WITH AN EYE TO 2017
At the end of the 2016 legislative session, several legislators volunteered to work together to find a solution to funding for a statewide tourism marketing program. This working group will begin meeting in mid-May and with a goal of fashioning a solution by mid-summer.
The group includes Sen. Sharon Brown (R., Kennewick) and Rep. Cindy Ryu (D., Shoreline). They chair the committees that deal with tourism in the Senate and House, respectively. Others participating in the working group include Sen. Dean Takko (D., Longview), Rep. Cary Condotta (R., Chelan), Rep. Gael Tarleton (D., Seattle), Sen. Kevin Ranker (D., Orcas Island) and Sen. Christine Rolfes (D., Bainbridge Island). It is anticipated at least two other legislators will join the working group.
At the first meeting, these members will be provided with information about how other states finance tourism efforts and what lodging tax is used for in Washington State. In addition, members will review past proposals on tourism funding in Washington ranging from the WTA proposal to a proposal for financing by a tax credit. Finally, members will be briefed on the results of the latest Dean Runyan report. This session in intended to provide participants with a foundation of information so that they can proceed to discuss options for our state.
WTA consultants and staff will be joined by representatives from the Washington Lodging Association, the Washington Restaurant Association, the Washington State Destination Marketing Organizations and other tourism related organizations.
In addition, WTA board members will be asked to review and discuss the principles of the WTA proposal. The purpose of this discussion is to give guidance to WTA consultants and staff as we pursue a proposal to present to the 2017 legislative session. It is important that WTA prioritize what is important in a proposal as discussions with legislators proceed. Another part of the board discussion will focus on grassroots organization – what more WTA needs to do to make sure that legislators understand from their own constituents that a robust tourism marketing program will benefit the state economically.
SAVE THE DATE!
The 6th Annual WTA Summit will be held in the Seattle area on September 27th, 2016. Look for more information coming soon on program details, key note speakers and registration information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or join today online here.