New Website for Dog Travel Launched

The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau has launched a new website for visitors traveling with their dogs.  Winedoggies.com  features the many dog friendly attractions and services available in the Yakima Valley.  Highlights include a ‘doggie bloggie’ hosted by a local canine, an interactive map of dog-friendly businesses with open pet policies, plus a section where guests can add pictures and stories of their dogs enjoying Washington wine country.

“We created this site to accommodate the growing number of visitors traveling with their dogs,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “Although the site is called Wine Doggies, it’s much more than stories about winery dogs.  The site is designed to assist travelers and their dogs with their visit to wine country, giving them a tour guide for pet friendly shops and must-see stops in the Yakima Valley.”

As pet ownership grows, so does the trend of traveling with man’s best friend.  Large cities such as Seattle and San Francisco have more dogs per capita than children,[i]  and more than 49 percent of U.S. adult leisure travelers consider their pet to be part of the family.[ii]  In a survey taken of more than 6,000 pet owners, most reported traveling at least once a year with their pets. [iii]

The Yakima Valley boasts dog-inclusive activities ranging from the Canine & Wine Walk on May 12, 2012, where pups walk their owners through selected wineries to raise money for the Yakima Valley Pet Rescue, to dog-friendly boating on nearby lakes.  For information on other canine related attractions in the Yakima Valley, follow Wine Doggies on Twitter at @winedoggies or visit www.winedoggies.com.

[i] Source: “Amazing Dog Facts and Trivia,” by Ryan O’Meara (Chartwell Books, Inc.)

[ii] Source: US Travel Association, 2009

[iii] PetRelocation.com

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Meetings Mean Business!

Washington, D.C. (February 17, 2011) – The Convention Industry Council today released a new study: The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy, revealing that the U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, a $106 billion contribution to GDP, $263 billion in spending, $60 billion in labor revenue, $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.

The study, conducted by PwC US, assisted by a team of industry researchers, spanned more than a year in research and analysis and is the first‐ever study of the size and scope of its kind. The research quantifies the economic contributions made by the 1.8 million meetings, trade shows, conventions, congresses, incentive events and other meetings that take place across the country. Details on the study and the 14 leading membership organizations which formed the research alliance can be found at http://www.MeetingsMeanBusiness.com.

“As the nation grapples with effective ways to work its way out of a recession, the meetings industry plays a critical role in supporting jobs in communities across America, creating environments that foster innovation, consensus and business success,” said Karen Kotowski, Executive Director of the Convention Industry Council, the trade organization which unites the meetings sector and educates the public on its profound economic impact. “Two years ago, the value of meetings, one of America’s top economic and social engines, was misunderstood by governments and the public. This new research quantifies the economic significance of our sector for legislators, regulators and economists alike.”

Jobs, Spending, Tax Revenue and GDP

The 1.7 million jobs generated by the meetings industry is larger than many U.S. industries, including broadcasting and communications (1.3 million), truck and rail transportation industries (1.5 million) and computer and electronic product manufacturing (1.1 million). The industry’s 1.7 million jobs generate $60 billion in labor income and support another 4.6 million .S. workers, including industry suppliers and those who rely on meeting output for sales and
revenue. Spending on goods and services resulting from meetings and events in the U.S. totals $263 billion. The majority of direct spending, $151 billion, is related to meeting planning and production, venue rental and other non‐travel and tourism related commodities; $113 billion s spent each year on lodging, food service, transportation and other travel and tourism commodities. The meetings and events sector supports both jobs and spending in allied U.S. industries, including professional meeting organizers and venues, food and beverage, accommodation, transportation, recreation/entertainment, retail, travel services and more.

The $263 billion in spending generated $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. And meetings’ $106 billion contribution to the U.S. GDP is greater than, for example, auto manufacturing ($78 billion), performing arts/spectator sports/museums ($71 billion) and information and data processing services ($76 billion).
“The results of our comprehensive research demonstrate the significance of the meetings industry as a major contributor to the U.S. economy,” said Robert Canton, director, convention & tourism practice, PwC US. “New and proven research standards, as well as definitions provided by the United Nations World Tourism Organization allowed for the measurement of U.S. economic activity resulting from face‐to‐face meetings.”

Meeting Classifications and Attendance

A total of 205 million people, representing domestic and international delegates, exhibitors and organizers attend the 1.8 million meetings.

Of the 1.8 million meetings, 1.3 million are classified as corporate or business meetings, 270,000 are conventions, conferences or congresses, 11,000 are trade shows and 66,000 are incentive meetings. The vast majority of meetings (85 percent) were conducted at venues with lodging. Meetings generate 250 million overnight stays by 117 million Americans and 5 million international attendees.

TripAdvisor Workshop This Month

The Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau will host a workshop for businesses on how to utilize TripAdvisor to interact with users of the social media site. The session is slated for February 22, 11 am at the Yakima Convention Center, 10 North 8th Street in Downtown Yakima.

Titled “Make TripAdvisor Work for You!”, the workshop will give tips and techniques for businesses on maintaining a positive online reputation, responding to guest reviews, enhancing their business listings plus implementation strategies to get more online reviews on the social media website. Todd Skelton, TripAdvisor West Coast Destination Manager will be the presenter. TripAdvisor is a leading travel review site that experiences 40 million unique visitors each month and has more than 20 million registered users.
The session is free to members of the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, $22 for the general public. To reserve call 509-575-3010 or email the visitors bureau at Barbara@visityakima.com

Washington State Travel Improved in 2011

The Washington State travel industry continued to show modest improvement in 2011, following the steep decline in travel in 2009 in the state and the U.S. That’s according to a new report released this week for the Washington Tourism Alliance produced by Dean Runyan Associates of Portland, OR.

As reported, most indicators of travel to Washington destinations are up, yet the travel industry is still not performing at the level prior to the recession. In general, the performance of the Washington State travel industry reflects that of the larger U.S. Below are key industry indicators from the report.

Spending: Travel spending increased by 5.0 percent in Washington State from 2010 to 2011p following a 6.2 percent increase during the preceding 2009-10 period. However, most of the spending increase was due to price increases for rooms and transportation. The travel spending estimates for the larger U.S. are comparable.

Employment: On a more positive note, there is some indication that travel industry businesses are beginning to hire new workers for the first time since 2008. Overall, travel generated employment increased by 2.1 percent. Employment gains typically lag business revenue after deep recessions such as the one from which we are now recovering. Following a sharp reduction in employment during 2009, employers generally increased the number of hours worked of existing employees and improved their balance sheets in 2010. They are now hiring new employees.

Tax Receipts: Total local and state tax receipts generated by travel spending increased by 4.5 percent from 2010 to 2011, the same rate of increase as in the preceding year. Lodging tax revenues increased by 7.7 percent.

Visitation: Visitation to Washington State also grew in 2011, although the rate of increase was less than the preceding 2009-10 period. Room demand, as measured by Smith Travel Research increased by 3.4 percent for the year (preliminary estimate) compared to a 6.4 percent increase the preceding year. Estimates of visitor air travel on domestic flights increased by 1.5 percent, compared to 2.4 percent from 2009 to 2010. Similarly, the total number of overnight person-trips increased by 1.6 percent, compared to 2.8 percent for the preceding year.

Yakima County data will be available some time in March.