Travel Media Workshop

Today the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau staged a workshop on working with the travel and lifestyle media for members of the bureau. Utilizing a panel format, the two hour session focused on tips and techniques to working with the media. More than 25 people attended the session representing local communities, attractions and businesses.

Panelists included:

The workshop was one of the many programs the Visitors Bureau provides its members to enhance their business.

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Wine Bloggers Conference Underway

The 2010 North America Wine Bloggers Conference gets underway today in Walla Walla and the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB) will be there as one of the event sponsors. This three day symposium brings  a unique opportunity for wine bloggers to learn about and discuss the intersection of wine with the world of new media including blogging, social media, and more.

Prior to the start of the event, yesterday Wine Yakima Valley coordinated a Yakima Valley excursion for nearly 50 writers with tours of vineyards and wineries, concluding with a visit to the Vintner’s Village in Prosser. The VCB is the sponsor of lunch today in Walla Walla and staff will be on hand for the whole event to discuss not only wine, but also the attractions ‘beyond the vine’ in the Yakima Valley.

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Washington Wine Country Update

Next  week Washington Wine Country concludes a series of wine maker dinners, auctions and events to raise operational funds for their programs. Washington Wine Country is a non-profit organization formed in 2003 and is dedicated to promoting wine-related tourism and economic vitality throughout the wine growing region of Eastern Washington, where 99 percent of Washington State’s wine grapes are grown. The region includes the American Viticultural Areas (AVA) of Eastern Washington including the Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain, Columbia Gorge, Horse Heaven Hills, Rattlesnake Hills, Snipes Mountain, Lake Chelan and Wahluke Slope. To date the organization has raised more than $2.5 million for its regional marketing and economic development efforts.

The Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau and Tri Cities Visitors and Convention Bureau have been active partners in the organization since inception. Cooperative projects have included regional maps, street banners, a wine country travel focused website, generating media stories, print and broadcast advertisements plus regional branding.

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USTA Projects Summer Travel to Improve

The U.S. Travel Association (USTA) and other organizations project that summer travel will improve over previous years. In their monthly forecast email, USTA stated that domestic leisure travel volume appears back on track for the 2010 summer season, with sustained modest growth of 2.3 percent expected over last summer. They anticipate slightly more frequent travel this summer (2.1 trips versus 1.9 trips last summer), with intended vacationers planning to stay away 6.7 nights on the average and 42% expecting to spend $1,000 or more on their longest trip (up from 37% last summer).

Other surveys and forecasts by the American Automobile Association, Deloitte, and USA Today/Gallup state optimism about 2010 summer travel.  A recent American Express survey found that while family trips will be most popular (52%), a variety of other vacation types are being planned, including: couples trips (26%), trips with friends such as “girlfriend getaways” and “mancations” (10%), experiential or adventure vacations such as a culinary retreat or hiking trip (7%) and educational vacations (4%).

Airline travel is expected to rise a scant 1 percent this summer, according to the Air Transport Association (ATA), with the growth in international travel likely to outpace gains in domestic flying.

Smith Travel Research (STR) projects demand for hotels will be solid this summer (+4.4% versus -6.2% last summer). The U.S. hotel industry should expect to see mixed results, with occupancy up 2.2 percent from summer 2009, average daily rate (ADR) down 1.9 percent and revenue per available room (RevPAR) ending the summer virtually flat with a 0.2 percent increase. This will represent, however, a significant improvement over summer 2009 when nationally occupancy fell 9.1 percent, ADR dropped 9.6 percent and RevPAR was down 17.8 percent.

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Industry Working for State Tourism’s Future

Yesterday eighteen tourism industry professionals and civic leaders met in offices of the Seattle Southside Visitor Services to begin a process that will establish more permanent and secure funding sources and advocacy for State Tourism efforts.  In the last legislative session funding for State Tourism was cut from $6.8 million annually to below $2.0 million due to the budget and changes in funding sources. Washington state will be ranked near the bottom of the 50 states in terms of state funding to bring visitors.

“It was a brutal legislative session with the state budget deficits,” stated Washington State Destination Marketing Organization President John Cooper of Yakima.  “Even so, as citizens we can’t let an industry that generates more than $958 million in taxes for state and local governments and supports more than 147,000 jobs suffer and begin to decline. Without a strong state tourism effort we will lose jobs and revenue.”

Industry leaders spent much of the day discussing options and opportunities for building an alliance of tourism and affiliate industry sectors to develop and advance new funding options and strategies. The next steps are to further build an advocacy program, identify additional partner groups and evaluate other state funding models. Industry sectors represented at the meeting included Washington State Destination Marketing Organization, Washington Lodging Association, transportation, Puget Sound Attractions Council, Washington Economic Development Association, Port of Seattle, Washington State Retail Association and state officials.

Through the leadership of the Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau  and WSDMO an advocacy program  called Tourism Matters began two years ago to raise awareness of the importance of tourism for the state.

Go here for great facts on why tourism matters for Washington state!

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