Tourism alliance moves forward
After Washington closed its tourism office this summer, the Washington Tourism Alliance, an independent, nonprofit group of industry stakeholders, formed to fill the critical business void. About 30 volunteer representatives from convention centers, hotels and wineries met in Yakima in mid-September to create a plan to promote the state’s tourist attractions and meeting spots.
“An industry-led organization, the WTA has worked with the state to continue the work of statewide marketing and take over the marketing assets that had been created…before the government office closed on June 30,” Tammy Blount, the first chair of the WTA and president and CEO of the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor Bureau, told Connect. “From adversity comes opportunity, and ours is to create a strong, unified and powerful marketing group. Tourism is our state’s fourth largest industry—so important for our economic health that we must continue to be responsible champions of its growth.”
Led by Executive Director Suzanne Fletcher, the WTA is focused on fundraising and boosting membership, which currently consists of about 115 companies and dozens of individuals. Founding partners include the Port of Seattle, Seattle Hotel Association, Washington Lodging Association, Washington Restaurant Association and Best Western Hotels of Washington. The chairs for the WTA’s five major committees were designated at the meeting: long-term funding and advocacy, membership, marketing and communications, summit and events, and website. Committees will report back to the board this month with goals and objectives.
According to a study commissioned by the Washington State Department of Commerce, travelers spent $15.2 billion supporting 143,800 jobs last year.
In 2005, the Evergreen State allocated $3.6 million to its tourism program, ranking 46th in the country in spending. In 2010, funding fell to $1.8 million. By July, it was nonexistent.
While tourism budgets are increasing in Hawaii, Texas and Louisiana, most states are suffering cuts. Read about how tourism marketing is fundamental to healthy state and city coffers here.