Yakima Valley National Travel and Tourism Week

NTTW14_V_4C_jpegMay 3-11 is National Travel and Tourism Week, when across America, the tourism industry celebrates the role travel plays in the economy and their communities.

As a kick off to the celebration, on April 30th Yakima Valley Tourism hosted their tourism awards luncheon at the Yakima Convention Center, with 200 business and civic leaders in attendance. Bale Breaker Brewery was presented Tourism Business of the Year for their unique brewery operation in a working hop field and the media attention they have garnered since they opened in April 2013. John Baule, Director of the Yakima Valley Museum, was recognized as Tourism Person of the Year for his past and present efforts to enhance Yakima as a destination and his service to numerous arts and community organizations.

Tourism is a big industry for Yakima County. Travelers in 2013 spent $359 million in the county, which is up 4.7% since 2008 when the national economy entered a recession. “With the exception of a slight dip in 2010, travel and tourism grew each year for the past five years,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “That’s a testament to the strength and endurance of this industry in our region, even during economic downturns.”

There are 3,530 people employed in tourism in Yakima County. Visitors generate around $24 million a year in state and local taxes, which Cooper points out goes towards public services enjoyed by local residents including police, fire, parks and roads.

The U.S. Travel Association (U.S.T.A.) has developed a campaign called the Travel Effect, which illustrates the impact travel and tourism has on our lives, businesses and local, state and national economies.

According to U.S.T.A., travel supports 15 million jobs across the nation. The workforce includes workers in the transportation, hotel, restaurant, attraction and retail sectors. In addition, travel and tourism supports employees in other industry sectors such as construction, manufacturing and finance.

U.S.T.A .reports that travel also promotes physical and physiological health and improves workplace productivity. In 2013, the average U.S. employee skipped 3.2 days of paid time off. According to a recent study, if workers used all of their available paid time off, the U.S. economy would gain $160 billion in additional annual business sales, which would support 1.2 million new jobs and generate $21 billion in new annual tax revenues.

Washington Tourism Alliance Attends IPW 2013

Pow wow 2013

Delegates work the Washington Tourism Alliance booth at IPW last week

U.S. Travel Association’s 45th annual IPW (formerly known as Pow Wow)  is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S.  Last week representatives from the Washington Tourism Alliance staffed a booth at IPW in Las Vegas to promote the state. More than 6,400 people from 70 states were in attendance, a record for the show. The event is estimated to generate more than $3.5 billion in travel to the U.S. over the next three years.

The delegates met with 43 tour operators and media in 20 minute appointments over three days. Working the booth were Jordan Youngs of the Tri City Visitors and Convention Bureau, Sandy Ward of the Future of Flight and Boeing Center, Meilee Anderson from Seattle Southside and John Cooper, WTA Board member from the Yakima Valley VCB.

Yakima Valley Hosts Brand USA UK Tour

UK travel agents and their 'Sunbrellas' at Silver Lake Winery

UK travel agents and their ‘Sunbrellas’ at Silver Lake Winery

As a conclusion to National Travel and Tourism Week, last weekend the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau hosted nine United Kingdom travel agents, tourism staff from the Port of Seattle and media on a whirlwind tour of the Valley as part of  a MegaFam sponsored by Brand USA with the Port.

As part of their visit the travel agents visited wineries, saw the Canine and Wine fundraiser, took a hayride, toured the murals in Toppenish, had a wine makers dinner at Treveri Cellars, enjoyed brunch at Birchfield Manor and stayed at downtown hotels. The Yakima Valley was part of a Washington and Oregon multi-day tour entitled Pacific Playground. Here’s a blog entry about their time in the Valley.

The mega-familiarization tour included seven simultaneous itineraries incorporating some of the United States’ most iconic destinations. Each itinerary offerered an incredible experience from the western wilds of Utah and Colorado; the urban playgrounds of the East Coast; the rich culture of Texas; the laid back lifestyle of California; the creole flavors of the Deep South; the Pacific Playground journey and the Great Lakes region. MegaFam participants were selected among an elite group of travel agents from the UK and Ireland who booked trips to the USA from January 1 – April 5, 2013 via Brand USA’s partner airlines, British Airways and American Airlines, and ground transportation partner, Avis.
Brand USA is the nation’s first cooperative destination marketing organization. They focus on delivering programs that increase awareness and enhance the image of the United States among worldwide travelers and encourage travel to the United States. In addition to promoting the United States as a travel destination they work with the Federal government to communicate US entry and security processes that will help make the journey to and into the United States easier and more welcoming.

The Travel and Tourism Industry: We Create Memories

NTTW13_V_4C_jpgThink back to your fondest memories. Chances are that many revolve around a trip or journey. Your first breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon as a young child. Seeing Abraham Lincoln perched on his chair as you walk up the steps of his memorial in Washington D.C. Maybe it’s just time spent with family or loved ones as you explore a new place together. Cherished moments.

Sure vacations have their mishaps. A missed plane, an illness in a foreign country, a feeling of desperation with language barriers. But even these set-backs can be life enriching through lessons learned and stories to tell.

This week those of us in the travel and tourism industry celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week. Mostly we trumpet what this amazing industry means to our country from an economic view point. It is substantial. According the U.S. Travel Association, travel generates $2 trillion for the U.S. economy and supports nearly 15 million American jobs. Travel contributes more than $129 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Here in the Yakima Valley visitors spend in excess of $350 million each year and support more than 3,500 local jobs.

But I think that travel offers something even more important. It’s a force for helping all of us to learn from other cultures, to be more understanding of the people and issues that shape our world. To connect with people. I remember a business trip I took to Haiphong, Vietnam, a few years back. During free time, our group wandered into the streets near our hotel. In no time I became separated from the others and I lost my bearings in the narrow, congested streets. A street vendor who had approached me earlier to buy post cards realized I was lost. He guided me back to the main boulevard within sight of the hotel, never asking for anything in return. He just smiled and pointed at the hotel. I bought a packet of his post cards and have them framed in my home. Needless to say that simple gesture helped to shape my view of Haiphong.

While the travel and tourism industry contributes substantially to the economic well-being of our communities, its fundamental mission is to serve our guests and to help them to have wonderful, life enriching experiences. In essence, the job of this industry is to help create memories.

John Cooper
President & CEO

National Wine Tourism Day in the Yakima Valley

Wine-Tourism-Day-Logo_final_croppedThe first-ever Wine Tourism Day in North America will take place on Saturday, May 11th, 2013 with wineries and other businesses offering a variety of events to the public throughout North America.

Locally, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) has built a website on visityakimavalley.org that lists wine related events happening that day. In addition, the VCB is hosting British travel agents and tour operators on a tour of the Valley, visiting wineries and other attractions as part of a state-wide tour sponsored by the Port of Seattle and Brand USA.

“Wine tourism is a key focus of our destination marketing efforts,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “We’re pleased to be a partner in this national effort to raise awareness of the wine related tourism.”

According to national event organizers there are more than 7,500 wineries in 205 American Viticultural Areas (AVA), 38 authorized wine appellations in Canada, and another 40 appellations in Mexico. In 2013 the Yakima Valley celebrates 30 years as the Northwest’s first AVA. It has 16,000 vineyard acres and more than 80 wineries.

Wine Tourism Day is supported by a number of industry partners including LocalWineEvents.com, Touring and Tasting Marketing & Media, WineAmerica, the Wine Industry Network, the Wine Tourism Conference, and Zephyr Adventures, in addition to wine and tourism associations in wine regions throughout North America.

For local Wine Tourism Day related events go to www.visityakimavalley.org  Details on national Wine Tourism Day events can be found at  www.WineTourismDay.org

Travel To USA To Grow In 2013

November 1, 2012

The U.S. Travel Association today projected increases in leisure, business and international inbound travel next year will enable the industry to add 98,800 American jobs by the end of 2013. Leisure travel is expected to rise 1.2 percent, business travel is projected to increase nearly one percent and international inbound travel will increase four percent. These job gains will increase direct travel industry employment to more than 7.6 million jobs next year.

“The focus of this election season has been how to put Americans back to work, and our industry is uniquely capable of adapting to economic upswings and creating jobs,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Given our industry’s immense potential not only nationally, but also for local and state economies, we call on the Administration and Members of Congress to build a plan for economic recovery that drives significant increases in travel.”

Domestic Travel Overview

Domestic leisure travel is expected to increase 1.2 percent in 2013, a new record high, but the growth will be at a slower pace than during the past few years. While business travel volume will slow significantly next year to less than one percent, the number of business trips has grown steadily since the downturn in 2009 and is expected to see more positive growth in 2014. Total domestic travel spending, including leisure and business travel, will increase three percent.

“While the growth rate is more moderate than in previous years, leisure travel remains at an all-time high and is an indicator of rising consumer confidence,” said David Huether, senior vice president of research and economics for the U.S. Travel Association. “Businesses continue to have a heightened focus on the value and bottom-line benefits of travel. We feel the slight increase in business travel next year continues to reflect demand for face-to-face meetings that drive growth and productivity.”

International Inbound Travel

Total international inbound travel will increase four percent in 2013 while spending will grow 7.1 percent. The importance of global travel to the American economy continues to increase with international travelers now accounting for 15.1 percent of total travel spending in the U.S., up from 14.3 percent in 2011.

Overseas travel to the U.S. (excluding Canada and Mexico) will grow 4.3 percent, a slight decrease from last year’s growth of 4.8 percent. While the numbers continue to trend upward, any slowdown in travel growth is of concern because overseas travelers contribute significantly more to the U.S. economy, spending an average of $4,300 per trip.

The U.S. Travel Association’s industry forecast can be viewed here.

Yakima Valley Marketed at USTA Pow Wow

U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S.  In total there were nearly 5,000 attendees representing more than 70 countries including U.S. exhibitors, international and domestic travel buyers plus journalists.

In just three days of intensive pre-scheduled business appointments, more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations from every region of the U.S., and close to 1,200 international and domestic buyers from more than 70 countries, conducted business negotiations that resulted a projected $3.5 billion in future USA travel.

The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau was represented in and coordinated the Washington Tourism Alliance booth and appointments. Also attending were representatives from the Olympia/Thurston County VCB, the Tacoma Regional CVB and Squaxin Island Tribe Tourism Department and Northwest Tribal Tourism.

In total the group had 37 scheduled twenty minute appointments plus a dozen walk up appointments and requests with tour operators and international media.

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.