2019 is well under way and Yakima Valley Tourism is busy on a number of projects to improve tourism for the region. In the meantime, how did 2018 fare? Overall, really good. The latest data shows that visitors spend more than $410 million each year in Yakima County, placing us in the top ten counties in Washington by visitor spending. As a result, visitor spending supports more than 3,850 direct jobs for our residents. And visitor spending creates $38 million in state and local taxes, money that helps support roads, public safety, parks and other services for the community.
For a complete look at our efforts and projects from 2018, click here for our Annual Report.
Sharing a column our CEO wrote today:
Thanksgiving is here. It’s just a matter of time before we usher in a new year. So what does 2015 hold for travel and tourism? Here are ten trends that I believe will influence travel and tourism next year.
- Unplugged travel: Lonely Planet recently released a number of predictions on the future of travel. They believe the pressures of modern life will cause growth in ‘unplugged travel’. People will seek places that deliberately have no emails or mobile device access, so that ‘guests can immerse themselves in their destination and truly forget about work and everyday life.’
- Crowded Planes: The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) forecasts that 6.6 billion passengers will fly worldwide by 2032, growing an average of 4.4% annually from 2014 onward. Bottom line: Crowded planes, especially on popular routes.
- Growth in Culinary Travel: It’s been a trend for awhile but research validates that food and beverage activities do influence travel decisions. Mandala Research surveyed Americans in 2013 and found that three quarters of all leisure travelers (131 million people) can be classified as culinary travelers, having participated in culinary activities within the past three years. Expect more interest in culinary travel and new products to tap into this travel trend, like the New Mexico Breakfast Burrito Byway or the Yakima Valley Spirits and Hops Trail.
- Sleeping will cost you more: Hotel rates and occupancy levels will be higher due to demand and a stronger economy, especially in large cities and at upscale hotels. Experts advise doing your homework to find deals and booking early. Another option is to gamble on last minute deals through online lodging websites.
- Go Local: The rapid rise of the ‘sharing economy’ through venues like Airbnb.com, EatWith.com, Uber and other grass roots based travel providers will proliferate in the coming year(s).
- Meetings Coming On Strong: The meetings and convention industry will experience continued growth in 2015. According to American Express Meetings & Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast, meetings will play a critical role in growing the tourism economy next year.
- Going mobile: Almost 25% of all travel bookings in the US will be done via smartphones in 2015. Mobile friendly travel apps and the growth in virtually everything being done on mobile devices have given rise to this trend. It’s not going to slow down either.
- Blurred Lines: Top of the Lonely Planet list of trends is that travel will become ‘fully integrated into our lives as opposed to a special event.’ This is encouraging as travel enriches in ways that no other activity can. Travelers are blending their interests when traveling. Trips that focus on the environment, sports, or spa/health will see growth in 2015.
- More bang for the buck: Leisure travelers want value and quality. This doesn’t always mean rock bottom pricing, but other aspects such as unique location, quality service, new amenities and convenience are important.
- Sustainability. Sustainability in travel has been around for years, but consumers are driving companies and destinations to embrace more earth friendly practices. Hotels are not only reducing water and chemical use but also employing other sustainable practices including LED lighting and in-room recycling programs. Restaurants are sourcing local ingredients and products. Rental car companies offer more hybrid vehicles.
So those are my top ten travel trends to watch in 2015. Wherever you travel, enjoy the journey and cherish the memories.
Washington Wine Country recently negotiated a two year extension of the popular Taste and Tote program with Alaska Air. The program allows passengers departing from Yakima, Pasco or Walla Walla airports to check a case of properly packaged wine on their Alaska Air flight home. Other benefits include waived drop off fees and discounts from Hertz Rent A Car and waived tasting fees at nearly 200 wineries.
“This has been a great program to further develop wine tourism in the region,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism and lead coordinator for the program. “Dozens of cases of wine are flying home each week from Yakima alone, providing local wineries with new business opportunities.” Cooper also hopes that as the program grows, more people will use Alaska/Horizon Air service to and from Yakima for their travel, which could result in more air service for the community.
Starting July 1st, passengers must be members of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to take advantage of the wine flies free program. Passengers can sign up at no charge by clicking here or at the ticket counter at the three airports. For complete details visit the Taste and Tote Program Details page.
Washington Wine Country is an alliance of the Yakima Valley Tourism, Tri Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau and Tourism Walla Walla. Washington Wine Country is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wine-related tourism and economic vitality by fostering regional partnerships throughout the celebrated wine growing region of Eastern Washington, where 99 percent of Washington State’s wine grapes are grown.
Travel media enjoy a meal at Russillo’s Pizza and Gelato in Yakima WA
Last week we had the honor of hosting eight writers and journalists on a two and half day spring tour of the Yakima Valley. The writers came from New York City, Portland, Vancouver B.C. and metro Seattle and have placed stories in a variety of media outlets including Town and Country, New York Times, Forbes Life and Travel Guide, Fodor’s Travel, OutCity.com, Northwest Travel Magazine, About.com, Real Food Traveler, Foodista, Seattle Kitchen/KIRO Radio, BC Living and Western Living.
The tour had a spring, wine and food theme and allowed participants to experience a number of attractions, food products and beverages. Activities included hikes in the Cowiche Canyon, massages at Ummelina, sipping wines throughout the valley and great meals including Italian fare at Russillos to a cooking demonstration at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser.
“The writers had a great time meeting the people, cultures and attractions of the region,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “Trips like these help writers craft authentic stories of the Valley.”
The tour was coordinated with our public relations firm Green Rubino of Seattle.
Yakima Valley Tourism has launched their spring marketing campaign to attract visitors. “Find Spring in the Yakima Valley” targets wine visitors, families and others interested in sunny spring events, local culture and activities.
Visitors to Yakima Valley Tourism’s website Find Spring will find details on seasonal festivals including Spring Barrel Weekend April 25-27, Cinco de Mayo festivities May 3-4 plus numerous other events. Visitors to the website may also enter a Wine Country Get-Away Giveaway that includes lodging, dinner in Downtown Yakima, VIP wine tasting at three Yakima Valley wineries plus a $100 gift card toward new Oakley sunglasses.
“Spring in the Yakima Valley is a unique Washington experience,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “In one destination you can combine sunshine, blooming orchards, spring barrel wine tastings and many other celebrations.”
The campaign is largely focused at consumers online and is supported by media buys in Sunset magazine, online versions of the Seattle Times, Washington Tasting Room Magazine (print and online) and 425 Magazine (print and online) plus social media placements in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The 2014 Yakima Valley Official Visitors Guide™ has been released. The full-color, 60-page guide covers the communities, events and attractions in the Yakima Valley region, from Red Mountain to White Pass. It is a free publication of Yakima Valley Tourism.
“What’s different about the guide is that it’s designed to have a consistent look,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “From the advertisements to the city listings the design flows well. It reads more like a travel magazine than a typical visitors guide.”
The guide includes information on the area’s wineries, produce stands and farmer’s markets, local heritage, festivals, outdoor adventure, dining, lodging, museums, arts, entertainment, shopping, relocation and more. New additions include the Spirits and Hops Trail and Wine Doggies programs.
To receive a free issue of the 2014 Yakima Valley Official Visitors Guide™ call (509) 575-3010, toll free (800) 221-0751, e-mail email@example.com or stop by the Yakima Valley Visitors Information Center at 101 North Fair Avenue, off Interstate 82 in Yakima. A digital version is available at www.yakimavalleytourism.com.
The agency responsible for developing and marketing tourism for the Yakima Valley will be doing business under a new name. Effective today, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau will be doing business as Yakima Valley Tourism. The change resulted from a board retreat last year as the organization made future plans for tourism in the region.
Yakima Valley Tourism made the announcement today at the Yakima Convention Center where it presented updates and issues facing the local, state and national tourism industries to the public.
“The new name is easier to remember, better reflects our mission and coincides with the launch of our six-year strategic plan,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO. “Our organization is responsible for all facets of tourism including conventions and groups, visitor services, sports and leisure travel. Tourism is an inclusive word for all sectors of the industry.”
The main website to promote Yakima Valley will be www.yakimavalleytourism.com
Yakima Valley Tourism is a non-profit trade association. It has been known as Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau since forming in 1957.
As summer winds down and fall approaches, we want to share recent successes of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau in our efforts to build tourism for Yakima and the Yakima Valley.
August was a hugely successful month for media coverage resulting from our efforts! Notable coverage included articles in Lonely Planet online, Portland Magazine’s fall story, Seattle Time’s Pacific Northwest Magazine, Crave Local.com, 425 Magazine and others. In total the exposure generated $52,000 in advertising value and reached 20.5 million readers.
The Sports Commission finished the annual Hot Shots 3 on 3 Tourney in Downtown Yakima. We had a tourney record of 497 teams, an increase of 8.5% from 2012 and the sixth straight year the team numbers have grown. An estimated 12,000 people were downtown for the event.
Now the Sports Commission turns to fall events. September 13 and 14th we host the SunDome Volleyball Festival with more than 80 teams and close to 1,000 players from all over Washington and Oregon.
Following that we stage the Pirate Plunder Adventure Race October 5th. To date we have more than 860 registered (last year there were 878 total racers). This year we are partnering with the Allied Art’s Fresh Hop Ale Festival happening that day to make Yakima a weekend destination.