Yakima Valley Visitors Bureau Annual Lunch

The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau announces its Annual Lunch will occur May 24th in Downtown Yakima. Special guest presenter will be Steve Warner, the new Executive Director of  the Washington Wine Commission. Mr. Warner comes to the Commission from Merck & Co., Inc., where he was Managing Director based in Bucharest, Romania. Prior to that, he held General Manager and marketing positions in global and regional marketing in the Asia Pacific region and led teams while living in Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; and several domestic markets. Mr. Warner holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from East Tennessee State University and a master’s of business administration in international business and finance from Rutgers University.

Born and raised in Washington State, Mr. Warner graduated from West Seattle High School before serving in the United States military’s Special Operations Command, first as a Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and then as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy.

At the Annual Lunch, Mr. Warner will discuss the Commission’s new Strategic Plan, the future of Washington wine and its role in tourism.

In addition, the Visitors Bureau will present the Chairman’s Award to recognize outstanding contributions made by an organization or individual for generating economic vitality for the Yakima Valley.


When:  Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

Where: Yakima Convention Center, 10 North 8th Street, Yakima, WA 98901

Cost:  $30

$200 per table of ten

RSVP: 509-575-3010 or reesha@visityakima.com

Washington Tourism Summit a Succees

Yesterday, more than 450 tourism industry professionals, civic leaders and the media gathered at the Sea Tac Hilton for a one day summit to review the past year efforts of the newly formed Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA), hear updates on current marketing efforts plus long range funding concepts for marketing Washington as a destination. Updates on national legislative items and the newly created marketing initiative Brand U.S.A. were also presented.

WTA Executive Director Suzanne Fletcher shared an overview of the formation of the organization after the elimination of the Washington State Tourism office in 2011. WTA is a 501[c]6 organization with a mission to advocate, promote, develop and sustain the economic well being of the Washington tourism industry. It was  established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing. WTA procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements a strategic statewide destination marketing plan.

Since forming last spring, WTA has taken over the assets of the closed tourism office, including the website experiencewa.com, created a partnership with the Washington Lodging Association to produce and distribute the Washington State Visitors Guide,   developed a modest cooperative marketing campaign, represents the state and membership at various industry trade shows plus built a state wide network of industry advocates. In addition, it has been building its organizational structure, solicited membership and corporate support plus educating the public of the importance of tourism for economic development and jobs.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow gave an update on the various challenges facing the U.S.A. in attracting foreign visitors, including long wait times for VISA approvals to visit the country and the hassles of airport security. He also discussed the importance of everyone in the travel and tourism industry taking an active role in talking to elected officials on the importance of tourism and getting their support on behalf of the industry. To that effect, U.S.T.A. and the Power of Travel Coalition have created a public advocacy campaign called Vote Travel.

The day wrapped up with a presentation by California Travel & Tourism Commission President and CEO Caroline Beteta. Ms.  Beteta serves on the Board of Directors of Brand USA (formerly the Corporation for Travel Promotion). The public-private marketing entity was created in 2010 to work with the travel industry to maximize the social and economic benefit of travel in communities around the country.  At the summit she unveiled the new Brand USA branding efforts and marketing campaigns to attract visitors to the U.S.A.