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!