Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel Association’ Category

Yakima Valley National Travel and Tourism Week

April 30, 2014

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.

The Many Benefits of Travel

January 6, 2014

Reprinted from Travel and Tourism Today by permission:

It’s a new year, time to make travel plans! Let’s hit the road and make that big sale or lure new clients. Maybe attend a conference to learn new skills or build contacts. Journey to an exotic locale or just head out for a weekend getaway. Whatever reason you take to the road, seas or skies,  travel offers lots of benefits that are well documented.

Need some proof? The folks at the U.S. Travel Association and their partners have developed a website aptly named Travel Effect. Based on research, the site shares many ways our economy, work and personal lives benefit from travel. Here are a few examples:

Personal benefits of travel:

  • Travel is beneficial to the aging process. Women who vacation every six years or less have a significantly higher risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death compared to women who vacation at least  twice a year. Men who do not take an annual vacation have a 30% greater risk of death from heart disease.
  •  Travel is good for families. In a survey of youth ages 8-18 they strongly agreed that on family trips they get to “see and do new things that I’ll remember for a long time” (64%) and that some of their “best memories are of things that I did during a family vacation” (49%).
  • Travel builds relationships. According to a USTA survey, “couples who travel together are significantly more satisfied with their relationship than couples who do not.” For example, 84% of the respondents who travel as a couple believe that they spend quality time together, compared to only 70% of respondents who do not.

Professional benefits of travel: A detailed study conducted by the Oxford Economics U.S.A. documented the value of business travel, including:

  • Executives and business travelers estimate that 28% of their current business would be lost without in-person meetings.
  • Business travel is a catalyst to the development of business relationships on every level. For example, networking with vendors (48%) and prospects (43%) were among the top reasons for attending trade shows.
  • According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 69% of meetings attendees consider in-person networking to be “very or extremely important” to their job performance.
  • 75% of survey respondents report that employees who take most or all of their vacation days perform better compared with employees who take less vacation.

Economic value of travel: The travel and tourism industry adds much to our national economy:

  • Domestic and international travelers spent $855 billion in 2012.
  • 7.7 million people were directly employed in the travel and tourism industry with an annual payroll of $200 billion in 2012.
  • Travelers generated $128 billion in local, state and federal taxes in 2012.
  • Each U.S. household would pay $1,060 more in taxes without the taxes the tourism industry creates.

Travel also serves a greater purpose. It connects people from around the world, potentially building a better understanding of different cultures, traditions and lifestyles. As the International Institute for Peace through Tourism proclaims, “Every traveler is potentially an ambassador for peace.” That alone makes travel worthwhile.

How the U.S. Federal Shutdown is Affecting Tourism

October 14, 2013

capitol-building For the past week I’ve noticed various stories on how the partial government shutdown has affected people and communities. Just a few minutes ago the U.S. Travel Association released some telling data on what it means from an economic standpoint.

In their release the U.S. Travel Association estimates “the partial government shutdown costs the U.S. $152 million a day in economic output due to lost travel-related activity, affecting as many as 450,000 American workers directly or indirectly supported by the travel industry.” What’s particularly frustrating is that travel and tourism is America’s top services export and that the industry has added jobs faster than the rest of the economy since the U.S. economic recovery began three years ago.  Now we may lose ground on those economic benefits and job growth due to this stalemate.

It’s clear to me that travel and tourism’s impact on the economy and peoples livelihood are just two more reasons why all parties involved need to put the rhetoric aside and find a solution to the impasse. Now.

John Cooper

President & CEO

Washington State Legislature & Governor Fund Tourism Efforts

June 28, 2013

With the Governor signing the state budget yesterday, $1 million in short-term bridge funds will be allocated to the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) to continue its critical work to maintain and grow Washington State tourism.

The budget allocation underwrites the basics of a targeted marketing program in 2014 and 2015.  Funds are specifically allocated for the state’s destination website for travelers; postage for mailing the Washington State Visitors’ Guide; operation of a tourism call center; tourism research; and international marketing. The Department of Commerce is directed to contract with WTA to provide these services to expand and promote the tourism industry for the state.  Terms of the contract will include a one-for-one matching requirement in either cash or in-kind services.

“This is an important first step in WTA efforts to build a long-term, fully funded tourism marketing program,” said Louise Stanton-Masten, WTA Executive Director. “However, it is only a fraction of what Washington State needs to effectively compete with other states. ”

“Tourism is crucial to our state’s economy,” said John Cooper, CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau and a WTA Board member. “Without a strong state tourism effort visitors will go elsewhere and Washington could lose revenues and jobs. “

As Washington is the only state in the nation without a state supported tourism marketing program, the WTA has lobbied for short-term bridge funding from the state, while also working to establish a long-term, sustainable funding model designed to create an industry-funded organization. The two-pronged strategy involves finalizing a plan that will set up a mechanism to collect funds from various tourism-related business sectors to promote the state as a tourism destination.

In February, Governor Inslee released his Working Washington Agenda which references the importance of re-engaging tourism – the state’s fourth largest export industry according to Gross Domestic Product – following the closure of the state tourism office nearly two years ago.

Figures released in March by WTA indicate that tourism in Washington State improved slightly in 2012 thanks to the national economic recovery, however, visitation to Washington State lagged behind the U.S., spurring concern about the state’s tourism market share.  Competing western state tourism budgets range from $10 million to $60 million. Comparatively, WTA began work with a budget of some $300,000 when the state tourism office closed and has worked to sustain it by raising incremental funds through membership and corporate sponsorships.

Tourism is the fourth largest industry in the state with visitor spending of $16.9 billion, $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue and more than 155,000 tourism jobs with earnings of $4.7 billion. In Yakima County visitors spend $354 million annually, support 3,580 jobs and generate $24 million in state and local taxes.

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About the Washington Tourism Alliance: The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) is a 501[c]6 organization 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. www.watourismalliance.com

Washington Tourism Alliance Attends IPW 2013

June 18, 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

May 17, 2013
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

May 6, 2013

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

Washington State Deserves a Tourism Program

February 17, 2013

When it comes to marketing a state for tourists, like sports you’re either in the game or you’re not. Washington State is not only out of the game, we’re nowhere near the parking lot.

In July 2011 the state tourism office was shut down due to budget constraints. Meanwhile, our surrounding states (and main competitors) expanded their tourism marketing. California and British Columbia each now have budgets exceeding $50 million. Oregon spends more than $12 million to lure visitors. Idaho is around $9 million. Any of the 50 states in the USA spend more than Washington to attract visitors.

Why do states invest in tourism promotion? Because it makes good business sense. Michigan recently invested $30 million in their tourism efforts and created 10,000 new jobs and $43.5 million in tax revenues. Conversely in 1993 Colorado eliminated its tourism office. Research showed that Colorado’s domestic visitor market plunged 30% within two years, representing a loss of over $1.4 billion in tourism revenue annually. Recognizing they were ‘out of the game’ and it was affecting their economy, the state starting funding a state tourism program some seven years later. But we can’t afford to wait seven years.

Tourism means jobs, new tax revenues and affects all regions of our state. Tourism is the fourth largest industry in Washington with nearly 150,000 jobs. Visitors spent $16.4 billion in 2011, generating more than $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. Yakima County is ranked 8th of the 39 counties in visitor spending with $350 million spent annually by visitors supporting more than 3,500 local jobs. Visitors also reduce your tax load. According to research conducted by Dean Runyan Associates of Portland, Washington families pay $400 less in taxes because of revenues generated by out-of-state visitors.

As the state tourism office closed the tourism industry formed the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) to move tourism forward for Washington. A primary focus of the organization has been to educate legislators, policy makers and business leaders of the importance of tourism for our economy, jobs and quality of life. We’ve been looking at the ways other states fund their tourism efforts. A favored model being considered involves having tourism industry sectors pay assessments that are pooled together to market the state. That’s how they do it in California and their program has been very successful. Getting industry support takes time (California took five years to pass their funding model).  In the meantime, WTA is asking for $1.9 million in ‘bridge’ funding from the legislature until a more stable funding source is developed.  This would cover website costs, postage to mail an industry funded visitor guide, a toll-free call center, research and some international marketing. Considering the average state tourism budget exceeds $14 million, that’s small change, but it’s a start in the right direction.

I am encouraged that Governor Inslee supports these efforts in his Working Washington Agenda and hope the legislature will also back this initiative to build tourism.

If Washington wants to be in the tourism game, we need to be all in and support an industry developed and industry driven tourism marketing program. Otherwise we will strike out.

John Cooper is the President and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau and serves on the board of the Washington Tourism Alliance representing Central Washington.

This was a guest editorial in the February 17th 2013 issue of the Yakima Herald Republic daily newspaper.


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