Archive for the ‘Washington State Tourism News’ Category

Washington State Legislature & Governor Fund Tourism Efforts

June 28, 2013

With the Governor signing the state budget yesterday, $1 million in short-term bridge funds will be allocated to the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) to continue its critical work to maintain and grow Washington State tourism.

The budget allocation underwrites the basics of a targeted marketing program in 2014 and 2015.  Funds are specifically allocated for the state’s destination website for travelers; postage for mailing the Washington State Visitors’ Guide; operation of a tourism call center; tourism research; and international marketing. The Department of Commerce is directed to contract with WTA to provide these services to expand and promote the tourism industry for the state.  Terms of the contract will include a one-for-one matching requirement in either cash or in-kind services.

“This is an important first step in WTA efforts to build a long-term, fully funded tourism marketing program,” said Louise Stanton-Masten, WTA Executive Director. “However, it is only a fraction of what Washington State needs to effectively compete with other states. ”

“Tourism is crucial to our state’s economy,” said John Cooper, CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau and a WTA Board member. “Without a strong state tourism effort visitors will go elsewhere and Washington could lose revenues and jobs. “

As Washington is the only state in the nation without a state supported tourism marketing program, the WTA has lobbied for short-term bridge funding from the state, while also working to establish a long-term, sustainable funding model designed to create an industry-funded organization. The two-pronged strategy involves finalizing a plan that will set up a mechanism to collect funds from various tourism-related business sectors to promote the state as a tourism destination.

In February, Governor Inslee released his Working Washington Agenda which references the importance of re-engaging tourism – the state’s fourth largest export industry according to Gross Domestic Product – following the closure of the state tourism office nearly two years ago.

Figures released in March by WTA indicate that tourism in Washington State improved slightly in 2012 thanks to the national economic recovery, however, visitation to Washington State lagged behind the U.S., spurring concern about the state’s tourism market share.  Competing western state tourism budgets range from $10 million to $60 million. Comparatively, WTA began work with a budget of some $300,000 when the state tourism office closed and has worked to sustain it by raising incremental funds through membership and corporate sponsorships.

Tourism is the fourth largest industry in the state with visitor spending of $16.9 billion, $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue and more than 155,000 tourism jobs with earnings of $4.7 billion. In Yakima County visitors spend $354 million annually, support 3,580 jobs and generate $24 million in state and local taxes.

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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 Washington State destination tourism marketing. WTA procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements a strategic statewide destination marketing plan. www.watourismalliance.com

Washington Tourism Alliance Attends IPW 2013

June 18, 2013
Pow wow 2013

Delegates work the Washington Tourism Alliance booth at IPW last week

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 the state. More than 6,400 people from 70 states were in attendance, a record for the show. The event is estimated to generate more than $3.5 billion in travel to the U.S. over the next three years.

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

Yakima Valley Visitors Center Celebrates 10 Years

May 31, 2013

More than 70 people gathered at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center (VIC) May 30th to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the center. Dedicated May 22, 2003, the center was built to be the gateway center to Washington Wine Country. It’s Tuscan themed design and ambiance has earned it the reputation of being one of the most beautiful visitors centers in the Northwest.

Featured speakers were former Yakima Mayor Mary Place and former VCB CEO and current Yakima City Council member Kathy Coffey. Both shared stories and fun moments related to the building and opening of the center. In addition to food and live music, new VCB winery members J. Bell Cellars and Reflections Vineyards were on hand for wine tasting.

The VIC is located of I-82 at 101 North Fair Avenue near Target in Yakima, Washington. For more information call (509) 573-3388 or (800) 221-0751.

Folks celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Yakima Valley VIC

Folks celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center

Yakima Valley VCB CEO John Cooper and City of Yakima Council Member Kathy Coffey serve up the cake.

Yakima Valley VCB CEO John Cooper and City of Yakima Council Member Kathy Coffey

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VIC Manager Pam Alamos talks with former Yakima Council Member Bernie Sims

VIC 10 Yr Party

J.Bell Cellars owner and winemaker Wes Teslo pours a sample.

Yakima Valley Hosts Brand USA UK Tour

May 17, 2013
UK travel agents and their 'Sunbrellas' at Silver Lake Winery

UK travel agents and their ‘Sunbrellas’ at Silver Lake Winery

As a conclusion to National Travel and Tourism Week, last weekend the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau hosted nine United Kingdom travel agents, tourism staff from the Port of Seattle and media on a whirlwind tour of the Valley as part of  a MegaFam sponsored by Brand USA with the Port.

As part of their visit the travel agents visited wineries, saw the Canine and Wine fundraiser, took a hayride, toured the murals in Toppenish, had a wine makers dinner at Treveri Cellars, enjoyed brunch at Birchfield Manor and stayed at downtown hotels. The Yakima Valley was part of a Washington and Oregon multi-day tour entitled Pacific Playground. Here’s a blog entry about their time in the Valley.

The mega-familiarization tour included seven simultaneous itineraries incorporating some of the United States’ most iconic destinations. Each itinerary offerered an incredible experience from the western wilds of Utah and Colorado; the urban playgrounds of the East Coast; the rich culture of Texas; the laid back lifestyle of California; the creole flavors of the Deep South; the Pacific Playground journey and the Great Lakes region. MegaFam participants were selected among an elite group of travel agents from the UK and Ireland who booked trips to the USA from January 1 – April 5, 2013 via Brand USA’s partner airlines, British Airways and American Airlines, and ground transportation partner, Avis.
Brand USA is the nation’s first cooperative destination marketing organization. They focus on delivering programs that increase awareness and enhance the image of the United States among worldwide travelers and encourage travel to the United States. In addition to promoting the United States as a travel destination they work with the Federal government to communicate US entry and security processes that will help make the journey to and into the United States easier and more welcoming.

The Travel and Tourism Industry: We Create Memories

May 6, 2013

NTTW13_V_4C_jpgThink back to your fondest memories. Chances are that many revolve around a trip or journey. Your first breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon as a young child. Seeing Abraham Lincoln perched on his chair as you walk up the steps of his memorial in Washington D.C. Maybe it’s just time spent with family or loved ones as you explore a new place together. Cherished moments.

Sure vacations have their mishaps. A missed plane, an illness in a foreign country, a feeling of desperation with language barriers. But even these set-backs can be life enriching through lessons learned and stories to tell.

This week those of us in the travel and tourism industry celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week. Mostly we trumpet what this amazing industry means to our country from an economic view point. It is substantial. According the U.S. Travel Association, travel generates $2 trillion for the U.S. economy and supports nearly 15 million American jobs. Travel contributes more than $129 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Here in the Yakima Valley visitors spend in excess of $350 million each year and support more than 3,500 local jobs.

But I think that travel offers something even more important. It’s a force for helping all of us to learn from other cultures, to be more understanding of the people and issues that shape our world. To connect with people. I remember a business trip I took to Haiphong, Vietnam, a few years back. During free time, our group wandered into the streets near our hotel. In no time I became separated from the others and I lost my bearings in the narrow, congested streets. A street vendor who had approached me earlier to buy post cards realized I was lost. He guided me back to the main boulevard within sight of the hotel, never asking for anything in return. He just smiled and pointed at the hotel. I bought a packet of his post cards and have them framed in my home. Needless to say that simple gesture helped to shape my view of Haiphong.

While the travel and tourism industry contributes substantially to the economic well-being of our communities, its fundamental mission is to serve our guests and to help them to have wonderful, life enriching experiences. In essence, the job of this industry is to help create memories.

John Cooper
President & CEO

National Wine Tourism Day in the Yakima Valley

May 1, 2013

Wine-Tourism-Day-Logo_final_croppedThe first-ever Wine Tourism Day in North America will take place on Saturday, May 11th, 2013 with wineries and other businesses offering a variety of events to the public throughout North America.

Locally, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) has built a website on visityakimavalley.org that lists wine related events happening that day. In addition, the VCB is hosting British travel agents and tour operators on a tour of the Valley, visiting wineries and other attractions as part of a state-wide tour sponsored by the Port of Seattle and Brand USA.

“Wine tourism is a key focus of our destination marketing efforts,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “We’re pleased to be a partner in this national effort to raise awareness of the wine related tourism.”

According to national event organizers there are more than 7,500 wineries in 205 American Viticultural Areas (AVA), 38 authorized wine appellations in Canada, and another 40 appellations in Mexico. In 2013 the Yakima Valley celebrates 30 years as the Northwest’s first AVA. It has 16,000 vineyard acres and more than 80 wineries.

Wine Tourism Day is supported by a number of industry partners including LocalWineEvents.com, Touring and Tasting Marketing & Media, WineAmerica, the Wine Industry Network, the Wine Tourism Conference, and Zephyr Adventures, in addition to wine and tourism associations in wine regions throughout North America.

For local Wine Tourism Day related events go to www.visityakimavalley.org  Details on national Wine Tourism Day events can be found at  www.WineTourismDay.org

Driving Meeting and Sports Business to the Yakima Valley

April 17, 2013

2013-04-16_11-34-58_648This week the hospitality industry of Yakima went to the  LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma to show Washington state meeting and sports planners that the Yakima Valley is ready to drive results for their meetings and events.

Sixty-two staff from thirty-one  groups came to the museum to learn about new services for the meeting and sports industry in Yakima, network, enjoy food and have fun. The event was sponsored by Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, Yakima Convention Center and Yakima Valley Sports Commission. It was also an opportunity for the participants to meet staff from Centerplate, the new caterer for the Yakima Convention Center.

“These social events with meeting planners and sports organizers are a key way we keep in touch,” stated John Cooper, President and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “It gives our industry an opportunity to provide the attendees with updates while learning how we can better serve them.”

Yakima Convention Center and Centerplate staff working the trade show

Yakima Convention Center and Centerplate staff working the trade show

Yakima Valley Washington Launches Travel Campaign

March 25, 2013

Barrett4-20-12aTo boost Spring travel to Washington’s Yakima Valley, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (YVVCB) launched a marketing campaign today to attract leisure travelers. “We get many visitors to the Valley each spring for sports tournaments and conventions,” stated John Cooper President & CEO. “This project is aimed to lure visitors here for wine touring, outdoor recreation, food and cultural events.”

The YVVCB has created a “Find Spring” campaign website that includes a range of spring events and attractions. It also has purchased advertisements in regional media and built online campaigns to attract visitors and increase web traffic.  Examples include participating in a Seattle Metropolitan’s email campaign sent to their 21,000 subscribers, a getaway drawing on ScenicWA.com that is sent to their 35,000 subscribers, exposure on Sunset.com and an email campaign to the YVVCB’s 8,500 online subscribers.

A major feature of the project is a sixty second radio commercial airing on Seattle radio stations that comically pokes fun at the rain in the Puget Sound and that the Yakima Valley is a sunny get-away. The spot will air 540 times through mid-May and will be supported with on-air promotional giveaways. Radio stations include Star 101.5, KOMO News, ESPN and KIRO radio.

Discover the Yakima Valley “Find Spring” website by clicking here. 


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