A Successful Central Washington State Fair

State Fair Park staff pose for a staff picture after a successful fair.

Despite smoke from local forest fires, 304,769 people attended this year’s Central Washington State Fair, making it the third year in a row for 300,000+ attendees.  Toytopia, Barnville, A Walk on the Wild Side and Coastal’s Fair Farm were just a few of the featured attractions.  Headliner acts were enjoyed by thousands along with grandstand attractions, rodeo-style events and motorized events.  A highlight of the fair was a mini-parade through the fairgrounds to honor Dale Carpenter, a community champion and volunteer.

 The “original and only Washington State Fair” was first held in Yakima at the current fairgrounds in 1893.  Nearly 120 years later, the Central Washington State Fair continues to be an autumn tradition, a celebration of harvest and a place for people to gather.  Plans are already underway for next year’s fair, slated for September 20-29, 2013. For more information visit their website.

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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.

New Air Service to Yakima Washington

(December 29, 2011) – SeaPort Airlines today announced that it will launch new service between Yakima (Yakima Air Terminal) and Wenatchee (Pangborn Memorial Airport) in Washington and Portland, Oregon beginning March 1, 2012.

The new service will include three daily nonstop round-trip flights between Yakima to Portland Monday through Friday, one nonstop flight from Yakima to Portland on Saturday, and one return nonstop flight from Portland to Yakima on Sunday. All flights from Portland to Yakima will continue to Wenatchee after a brief stop. The same pattern will be operated on return flights.

According to the airline, the flight schedule will allow travelers from Wenatchee and Yakima to complete a full day of business in Portland and return home the same evening, eliminating the expense of a hotel overnight and time away from family and the office. Portland travelers will be afforded the same opportunity to conduct same-day trips to Yakima and Wenatchee.

To kick-off the new service, SeaPort is offering an introductory fare of $69* each way between both cities and Portland. The introductory fare will be available for purchase until February 29, 2012 for travel through March 31, 2012. Seats are limited and other restrictions may apply. See http://www.SeaPortAirlines.com for details. Additionally, through March 31 all members of SeaPort’s FlyerFlex™ loyalty program will earn double credit on all flights to and from Yakima and Wenatchee. Following the introductory period, fares between Portland and Yakima will range from $89* to $169* and fares between Portland and Wenatchee will range from $89* to $179*.

Flights will be available for purchase on January 1, 2012 at http://www.SeaPortAirlines.com, in all major GDSs, and online travel sites. Customers traveling to and from Portland will enjoy the convenience of SeaPort’s private terminal at Portland International Airport that offers comfortable seating, complimentary coffee, tea, hot cider, and world-famous Voodoo Doughnuts that are all removed from the crowds and long-lines of the main terminal. Complimentary shuttle service is provided between SeaPort’s terminal and the main airline terminal.

Yakima Hosts Meeting Planners

Over the past two days, the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, Yakima Convention Center and the local hospitality industry hosted an educational forum for ten state and regional meeting planners and association executives.

During their stay, the meeting professionals discussed issues and opportunities facing the meeting and convention industry and tactics to improve their programs and services plus working in partnership with local venues. In addition, hotel management staff were in attendance to learn and share their insights.

The sessions were coordinated by Linda DiMario, a long time tourism and meetings expert from Long Beach California. This is the second year Linda has conducted the forum and was well received by the attendees.

In addition to the formal programs, the planners and executives were given behind the scene tours of the new 4th Street Theatre, spent an evening wine tasting at Cultura Winery and having a dinner at Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast and Barn plus were able to experience first hand the many improvements and additions to the Yakima Convention Center, including the new Outdoor Plaza.

World Tourism Day Theme Announced

GlobeThe United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced today World Tourism Day 2011 will be held on 27 September 2011, and will be celebrated under the theme Tourism – Linking Cultures, an opportunity to highlight tourism’s role in bringing the cultures of the world together and promoting global understanding through travel.

“The message on this World Tourism Day is that, thanks to tourism, millions of people from different cultures are being brought together around the world like never before,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “This interaction between people of different backgrounds and ways of life represents an enormous opportunity to advance tolerance, respect and mutual understanding”.

In 2010, 940 million tourists travelled to a different country, coming into direct contact with tangible – art, monuments – and intangible – music, food, traditions – culture. World Tourism Day 2011 is a celebration of this unique interaction and aims at furthering understanding of the values of cultural diversity.

World Tourism Day 2011 will also draw attention to the importance of preserving and promoting the cultures of the world in all their forms. Culture, which compels millions of tourists to travel and spend, is of immense value in itself, but is also a vital tool for the development of a sustainable tourism sector. As such, it must be thoughtfully managed and protected, as set out in the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism which states that: “Tourism policies and activities should be conducted with respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage, which they should protect and pass on to future generations”.

“Culture is one of our most precious assets and needs protecting. As we launch World Tourism Day 2011, I call on all people to conduct tourism in a way that preserves and enriches the cultural wealth.

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Tourism Awards Presented

At their annual lunch today, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau presented their Encore! Awards of excellence. Recognizing their contributions to the tourism industry, the White Pass Ski Area was presented Tourism Business of the Year for their recent expansion of the ski resort. The Clean and Safe Ambassadors of the Committee for Downtown Yakima were awarded Tourism Persons of the Year for their efforts to keep the city center clean and safe.  The Chair’s Award was presented to City of Yakima City Manager Dick Zais for his more than 30 years of service to the travel and tourism industry and the many projects he was involved in during his career to enhance Yakima as a visitor destination.

A highlight of the program was a motivational program presented by former host of KING  5 Evening Magazine John Curley. More than 200 industry and community leaders attended the event at the Yakima Convention Center.

The mission of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau is to stimulate economic development by marketing the Yakima Valley for conventions, groups and leisure travel.

Travel Media Workshop

Today the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau staged a workshop on working with the travel and lifestyle media for members of the bureau. Utilizing a panel format, the two hour session focused on tips and techniques to working with the media. More than 25 people attended the session representing local communities, attractions and businesses.

Panelists included:

The workshop was one of the many programs the Visitors Bureau provides its members to enhance their business.

New Website Features

Websites need constant attention and updating. With that in mind we are happy to announce new web updates for two important divisions of the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau.

We have just completed an upgrade of the the Yakima Valley Sports Commission’s website. Besides a whole new look aligned with our brand standards, features include an updated sports venue guide, details on local sporting events and volunteer opportunities.  In addition, the Sports Commission’s two signature events  Hot Shots 3-on-3 basketball tournament and the SunDome Volleyball Festival now have dedicated micro-websites.

The Group and Convention Sales Department now has a dedicated sales section on our main website.  The section aggregates information about the Yakima Valley relevant to meeting planners as well as convention services, promotion assistance, online group reservations and conference support.

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