WTA Newsletter June 2013

Executive Director Update
Louise Stanton-Masten

 As we head into a busy summer tourist season, the WTA has been actively working on behalf of our members and the industry. We’ve given presentations, attended open houses, spoke on panels, handed out fact sheets, and much more to get the word out! We continue to educate people about the WTA’s mission, Washington state tourism numbers, our competitor’s budgets, and the WTA’s role today and in the future.

Some events we’ve attended have been near Seattle and Bellevue, or as far as Las Vegas (see the article below on IPW 2013). Over the last month the WTA has presented on state-wide tourism initiatives to the industry during events hosted by Seattle Southside, city of Woodinville, Visit Bellevue, Seattle Hotel Association and Visit Seattle. This week, Mike Moe, WTA Director of Business Development, and I are off to Tri-Cities to visit stakeholders on the eastern side of the State.

We look forward to communicating specific plans for the WTA’s summer and fall stakeholder outreach program when WTA staff and board members will be in your area. Please contact me with any questions or ideas that you have – I always welcome the opportunity to speak with our members and tourism partners.


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Legislative Update

The Washington State Legislature is now in its second special session. The budget for the 2013-15 biennium is the main issue of discussion between the House and the Senate. During these budget discussions, Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) has closely watched the bridge funding for tourism, and our WTA bridge funding request is still included in both the House and Senate budgets. As we reported to you in the past, the two-year biannual budget includes $1 million in the House budget, and $800,000 in the latest Senate budget to support our work (This is an increase from the $200,000 that was in the original Senate budget).

The funding includes a provision that the funds are for the WTA to use for activities including website development, research, postage for fulfillment pieces, operation of a call center and international marketing. WTA must provide a 1:1 match in cash or in-kind activities. We continue to work with legislators from throughout the state to ask for support.

We are optimistic that the final budget approved by the House, the Senate and Governor Inslee will include sufficient funding for these activities. As the special session continues, look for legislative updates from WTA.


Washington Society of Association Executives Annual Convention Held in the Tri-Cities

The Washington Society of Association Executives (WSAE) held its Annual Convention in the Tri-Cities, June 2-4 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. The 120 associates and executives that attended serve as meeting planners and decision makers for hundreds of conventions, which take place throughout the Northwest each year.

“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to host the WSAE Annual Convention in the Tri-Cities. This event provided the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau along with our hospitality partners, the chance to showcase our region as a premier convention location,” said Kris Watkins, President & CEO of the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau (TCVCB).

After assisting in securing the convention in 2011, the TCVCB dedicated sales personnel to participating in multiple convention planning committees and also sponsored an off-site portion of the event at Terra Blanca Winery and Estate Vineyard where delegates were treated to wine tasting, food pairings, yard games, barrel cave tours, a live band and even a hot air balloon.


Washington State Promoted as Top Travel Destination at IPW in Las Vegas




U.S. Travel Association’s 45th annual IPW (formerly known as Pow Wow) is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S. Last week representatives from the Washington Tourism Alliance staffed a booth at IPW in Las Vegas to promote Washington state. More than 6,400 people from 70 states were in attendance, a record for the show, including 500-plus journalists.

The delegates met with 43 tour operators and media in 20-minute appointments over three days. Working the Washington booth were Jordan Youngs of the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau, Sandy Ward of the Future of Flight and Boeing Center, Meilee Anderson of Seattle Southside and John Cooper, WTA board member of the Yakima Valley VCB.

David Blandford of Visit Seattle promoted Washington state in addition to Seattle. The Visit Seattle booth featured Washington state collateral, maps and a “What’s new in Washington state” news release compiled by Katie Heaverlo of the WTA Communications Committee.

The event is estimated to generate more than $3.5 billion in travel to the U.S. over the next three years.

The 2014 IPW will be in Chicago. Visit USTravel.org to learn more.


Skagit River I-5 Bridge Collapse Pulled Tourism Community Together, Providing Travel Resources to Visitors

When the Skagit River I-5 Bridge collapsed in May, the Washington Tourism Alliance along with tourism professionals throughout the state, quickly joined forces to deliver travel resources and advisories to visitors.

“We went right to work with our statewide network of tourism professionals, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the state Department of Commerce and Governor Inslee’s office,” said Louise Stanton-Masten, WTA Executive Director. “We immediately agreed to proactively communicate that Mount Vernon, the San Juan Islands, Whidbey and Camano Islands, Bellingham and others in Northwestern Washington state remained open for business and that alternate routes were available.”

The WTA posted travel advisories on its consumer travel website ExperienceWA.com, and linked to the websites of affected destination marketing organizations which, in turn, conveyed critical travel bulletins and real-time tips for the general public to let them know that business and detour routes were open. Our mobile app, VisitWA also provided up to date information to the traveling public.

The “Skagit Valley-it’s Worth the Trip!” campaign was promptly created to welcome visitors to the area, with additional resources shared on VisitSkagitValley.com.

Five detour routes were set up to effectively move I-5 traffic around the Skagit River Bridge as transportation crews work to replace the collapsed section by mid-June. A temporary span was put in place and opened June 19, eliminating the need for detours while allowing construction on the permanent span to continue with the completion expected in early September.

The Skagit Bridge collapse underscored the state and national need for better investment in modern transportation infrastructure to capitalize on economic growth, more jobs, new tax revenue and a more positive balance of trade. A critical transportation package is currently being discussed in the state legislature’s special session in Olympia.


Regional Destination Marketing Efforts Showcased at Visit Bellevue’s Tourism Spotlight Luncheon

Visit Bellevue Washington, the city’s official Destination Marketing Organization hosted the 2013 Tourism Spotlight Luncheon on Thursday, June 6 at Meydenbauer Center. The event featured a keynote speech by John Morrey, Vice President and General Manager of Bellevue-based Expedia.com, as well as a presentation by Louise Stanton-Masten from the Washington Tourism Alliance, and a welcome by Conrad Lee, Mayor of Bellevue.



Established in 2011 to promote and increase leisure travel to Washington’s fifth largest city, Visit Bellevue has made influential progress toward this mission. Attendees learned more about the April 2013 launch of a new website and mobile site, VisitBellevueWashington.com, which garnered a 25 percent increase in visits within the first month, a strategic public relations and social media program that resulted in millions of impressions in 2012, and an award-nominated visitor guide with increased distribution to 110,000 readers in 2013. These efforts are positively reflected within the visitor impact statistics.

A tangible example of Visit Bellevue adding to the strong corporate and convention businesses in the area is the Washington Dental Association’s Pacific Northwest Dental Conference (PNDC), which takes place for five consecutive years and began June 13-14 2013. Visit Bellevue estimated that in 2013, the PNDC will use over 1,200 room nights in Bellevue hotels and have an estimated economic impact of $4 million dollars, and expects that this convention alone will generate nearly $20 million dollars over the next five years. Read the full press release for more details.


Washington Tourism Alliance Welcomes May New and Renewing Members 

 New members:

Alderbrook Resort & Spa, Auburn Tourism Board, Central Reservations, LLC, Emerald Queen Hotel & Casinos, Everett Community College, City of Federal Way, Northwest Woodworker’s Gallery, Seattle Seahawks,  The Seattle Times


Renewing members:

Cottage Bakery & Deli, Marriott Courtyard Tacoma Downtown, Fairfield Inn & Suites Tacoma Puyallup, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Puyallup, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Kimpton Hotels, Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, Paradigm Communications Group, Quincy Valley Tourism, Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce, Skagit Valley Tourism, Snohomish County Lodging Association, Squaxin Island Tribe Tourism, W Seattle Hotel, Willows Lodge