Cultural and Heritage Tourism

Yakama Nation member

Cultural and heritage tourism is a big market segment in tourism.  A recent study by the the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism Marketing Council and the U.S. Department of Commerce reveals that 78% of U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural and/or heritage activities while traveling, translating to 118.3 million adults each year.

Some facts from the study:

  • Cultural and heritage travelers are more frequent travelers, taking five leisure trips in the past 12 months.
  • They are more frequent business travelers.
  • They tend to travel farther to get the experiences they seek: about half of most recent overnight leisure trips were 500 miles or more from home.
  • More than a third say they traveled between 100 and 300 miles for a day trip.
  • They are more likely to participate in culinary activities, such as sampling artisan food and wines, attending food and wine festivals, visiting farmers’ markets, shopping for gourmet foods, and enjoying unique dining experiences.

When  they travel, cultural/heritage travelers do many things on their trip.  Activities identified include visiting historic sites (66%); attending historical re-enactments (64%); visiting art museums/galleries (54%); attending an art/craft fair  (45%); attending a professional dance performance (44%); visiting state/national parks (41%); shopping in museum stores (32%); and exploring urban neighborhoods (30%).

The study was conducted by Mandala Research.

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Bureau Hosts Two Press Tours

CW Ag MuseumLast month it was the Dutch, this month it’s the Germans and French!

The VCB has just finished up coordinating and hosting two back-to-back press tours of the Yakima Valley for German and French journalists.

Our German friends crammed in many activities during the two days here, staying at the Red Lion in Yakima, tastings at Tim’s Downtown Tasting Room , visits to Johnson Orchards, Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center, toured Toppenish Murals, winetasting by horseback through  Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast and Barn where they visited Cultura and Silver Lake wineries plus spa treatments at Ummelina, a tour of Kana Winery production facility and dinner at Gasperettis. Whew!

This past week we hosted the French journalists to lunch and a tour of the Central Washington Agricultural Museum in Union Gap, overnight at the Best Western Ahtanum Inn (thanks to Union Gap Tourism for their help), a ‘Wild West’ demonstration at Cherrywood, dinner at Zesta Cucina, Toppenish Mural tour, plus visits to the Heritage Restaurant and Yakama Cultural Center.

The trips were coordinated by Washington State Tourism and the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, with the Port of Seattle assisting on the French tour.  In addition to visiting the Valley, the writers from both groups toured Seattle and other regions of the state.

2010 Business Travel Update

As reported in USA Today, business travel will be lean in 2010.

A survey of Association of Corporate Travel Executives underscores the cautious approach in business travel next year. Only a quarter of respondents said they will spend more on corporate travel next year, while about half will operate at 2009 levels.

For the full article click  here.

Hospitality Training

Employees and volunteers of the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center, the Naches Train Depot Information Center and interested local businesses attended a White Pass Scenic Byway hospitality training session last week.  The training took place at the restored Naches Train Depot.   The  training session tested the knowledge of the scenic byway with fun games and  information on the sights on the White Pass Scenic Byway.   Knowledge of the byway was shared as well as lessons that  encourage active listening to traveler requests, and how to present directions and information.

The Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center has the White Pass Scenic Byway map in paper copy to give to interested travelers.

Another training session will be offered at the White Pass Ski Area Day Lodge in November. For more information and to register for this free and informative session contact Kathleen at 509-945-3189 or email .

Yakima Valley Wine Resources

Yakima Valley wineryWe recently reviewed the searches made on this site and discovered that a lot of visitors were looking for local wine events and resources.  This was interesting as this blog is intended primarily for industry news.

Even so, we want people to find what they need, so here are a few Website resources for you wine fans:

  • Yakima Valley wineries that are members of the Visitors Bureau, includes contact information, websites and more
  • Map of Yakima Valley wineries

If you need more resources or help, contact us or stop by the Visitor Information Center when you arrive.

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New Park Downtown

Work is underway on the new Performance Park being built at the corner of A Street and 2nd Street in downtown Yakima. Yakima County Commissioners  recently signed a ten year land lease with the Committee for Downtown Yakima (CDY) and agreed to  provide $40,000 to develop the land into a downtown park.

The park has been designed to accommodate live performances and will feature a gently sloping terrain with shrubs and trees.  The City of Yakima will provide another $240,000 to install streetlights, planting boxes, and sidewalk improvements along the periphery of the park site. It is projected the park will be substantially completed by the end of this year and ready for use by next Spring.

Visitor Spending Grew In ’08

Airport terminal

A study released this week by the Washington State Department of Commerce shows that visitors to Yakima County spent a record $345 million dollars in 2008, up 5.5% over 2007.

“Given that the economy started to decline at the end of 2008, we are pleased to see that overall the local tourism industry did well last year,” said John Cooper, President and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau.

The growth in travel spending in Yakima County was two percent greater than the statewide level of growth (3.5%). According to the report, tourism is a $15.4 billion industry in Washington employing nearly 151,000 people. The study documents that there are 3,410 people employed in travel and tourism in Yakima County and that visitors generated more than $25.3 million in local and state taxes.

Cooper says these figures validate that tourism is a positive economic force for the community. “Visitors produce far more tax revenues than the services they require. They provide significant revenues for the public services enjoyed by our citizens while supporting a range of local businesses.”

While 2008 ended on a positive note, Cooper anticipates that final figures for 2009 will show a modest level of decline due to the economy. “We’ll probably see single digit declines by year end, ” he stated.  “That’s a lot better than many other destinations.”

A breakdown of 2008 expenditures shows that tourists to Yakima County spent:

  • $123.7 million on ground transportation & fuel
  • $79.4 million on food and beverages
  • $42.6 million on lodging
  • $42.2 million on retail sales
  • $38.9 million on entertainment, arts & recreation
  • $17.1 million on food stores
  • $700,000 on air transportation (local residents)
  • $400,000 on air transportation (visitor related)

Dean Runyan Associates of Portland conducted the Washington State County Travel Impacts Study for the state.

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Visitor Center Receives Grant

Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center

Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center

The Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center (VIC) received notification this week that it will receive a $1,000 Community Grant from Walmart. The funds will be used to add an outdoor, all-weather brochure rack for after hour visitors plus landscape improvements.

“We are excited Walmart awarded us this grant.  The donation will help us to improve the looks of the facility and services we provide visitors,”  said VIC Manager Pam Alamos.

The Information Center is located at 101 North Fair Avenue at I-82 Exit 33 near downtown Yakima.  The center is operated by the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Sustainable Tourism Resource

Mt. RainierThe National Geographic Society has developed the Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD), a project dedicated to protecting the world’s distinctive places through wisely managed tourism and enlightened destination stewardship.

Earlier this year we worked with state tourism and CSD  on a Geotourism map of the Central Cascades stretching from Mt. Rainier to Crater Lake in Oregon.  Our role was to assist in identifying a number of culturally and historically significant resources in our region and facilitate the nomination of local attractions. That map and a website will be available this fall.

National Geographic has developed a website for the CSD and the concept of Geotourism. What is Geotourism? It’s a philosophy that tourism should sustain or enhance the geographic character of a place- its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage plus the well being of the residents of the destination. The site also features tips for travelers and resources for travel professionals on community development and preservation.