Archive for the ‘Washington State Tourism News’ Category

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. 

Visitor Spending Slows In Washington State

March 13, 2013
Montana billboard outside the Pike Street Market in Seattle

Montana billboard outside the Pike Street Market in Seattle

Yesterday I attended the Third Annual Tourism Summit hosted by the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA), where more than 200 tourism professionals from around the state convened in Olympia. I was encouraged with the level of support from Governor Inslee for sustaining basic tourism efforts through ‘bridge funding’. I am worried though with the sluggish growth of tourism in Washington State in 2012.

Figures released at the summit by WTA indicate that visitor spending in Washington improved just 2.1% in 2012, yet as a whole, tourism in the U.S. grew by 5.2%.  That means we lost market share. The state saw some 36.4 million total overnight person trips in 2012, and those visitors spent $16.9 billion, up 4.4%. Travel and tourism supported more than 153,300 jobs in 2012, up 2.7%, and generated a payroll of $4.7 billion.  While encouraging, I wonder how much more new spending, jobs and taxes would have been created if we had seen the level of growth the rest of the country did?

Why is visitor spending leveling off and likely to decline in the future? I think it’s largely because we have no state tourism program. As I have discussed before, the Washington State Tourism Office was closed in July 2011. Our main competitors have increased their marketing efforts. Idaho tourism has a budget of $7 million, Oregon has $12 million, British Columbia is at $48 million and California spends $61 million to attract visitors. They’re out there luring visitors as the WTA limps along with the meager resources it is able to raise.

The ‘bridge funding’ I mentioned is an industry request that is part of the Governor’s economic recovery plan. It calls for $1.77 million for the next two years (about $887,000 per year). Compared to the other states it’s spare change, but at least it will keep basic services going until long-term funding is secured. These dollars would be for website development and maintenance, postage to mail the industry funded visitors guide, operation of a call center, research and some international marketing.

If we want to improve our economy, create jobs and generate new taxes to support our public services we must revive statewide tourism marketing efforts. Otherwise we will lose ground.

John Cooper

Author of “Sideways” and “Vertical” Novels to Speak in Yakima Washington

February 28, 2013

Rex Pickett_11142010_090-Edit Author and screenplay writer Rex Pickett will be the featured guest and presenter at BLEND, a  reception and wine event April 18th, 5:30 p.m. in the Yakima Convention Center  hosted by the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Pickett has written many screenplays for both film and television. He wrote the novel Sideways, which was made into the famous Oscar-winning film of the same title by Alexander Payne. In 2011 he wrote and independently published his Sideways sequel Vertical. It won the prestigious Gold Medal for Fiction from the Independent Publishers Book Awards last year.

Rex has now has turned Sideways into a critically-acclaimed play. After a successful six month run in Santa Monica, “Sideways” the play will now go to the La Jolla Playhouse where it will be prepped for its Broadway run. Rex is currently the wine columnist for Town & Country Magazine and is writing a pilot for HBO titled The Nose. He also blogs for Huffington Post Books. Inklings Bookshop will have copies of Mr. Pickett’s books available for purchase  and autographs after his talk.

BLEND is open to the public and includes the opportunity to meet and hear Mr. Pickett, enjoy wine by Yakima Valley wineries plus sumptuous appetizers and more.  Cost is $25 per person. To reserve call 509-575-3010 or email laura@visityakima.com. Online tickets are available here (small transaction fee applies).

Participating wineries include Two Mountain Winery, Kana Winery, Milbrandt Vineyards, Gilbert Cellars, Airfield Estates, Sleeping Dog Wines, Treveri Cellars sparkling wine,  Knight Hill Winery, Kestrel Vintners & Cultura Wine.

Sponsors to date include the Holiday Inn and Oxford Inn and Suites of Yakima. Riedel stemware sponsored by Paul Berndt, Prudential Almon Realty


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BLEND SPONSORS:

blendSponsors

 

 

 

PARTICIPATING WINERIES:

  • Airfield Estates Winery
  • Cultura Wines
  • Gilbert Cellars
  • Kana Winery
  • Kestrel Vintners
  • Knight Hill Winery
  • Milbrandt Vineyards
  • Sleeping Dog Wines
  • Treveri Cellars
  • Two Mountain Winery

 


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