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.

Yakima Valley Featured in National Geographic Book on Dog Travel

Dog Lovers coverNational Geographic Books has released The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel which includes dog friendly businesses, attractions and outdoor areas in 75 pet-friendly cities and regions across the United States and Canada. The Yakima Valley is one of six communities in the Pacific Northwest featured in the book.

 The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel was written by Kelly E. Carter, a New York Times best-selling author and pet travel expert for AOL’s Paw Nation and Elite Traveler. In each destination Carter highlights pet offerings including hotels, parks, pet shops and pet friendly businesses. Features of the book include walks to take with your dog, insider tips from local pet owners and sidebars detailing opportunities for people with a dog in tow.

Yakima Valley Tourism approached Carter in early 2013 as the book was being developed. In 2012 the tourism office had created WineDoggies.com, an award winning program developed to assist visitors traveling with their dogs to the Yakima Valley. “When we found out she was writing this book we knew the Yakima Valley was the right fit,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of Yakima Valley Tourism. “We enjoyed working with Ms. Carter and are honored our community was included.”

WineDoggies.com provides pet-friendly businesses and must-see stops in the region. It also includes a ‘Doggie Bloggie’ hosted by a local canine, an interactive map of 50 plus dog-friendly businesses with open-pet policies and a section where dog-friendly businesses and guests can add pictures and stories of their dogs enjoying Washington’s wine country. In addition to featuring the Wine Doggies website, the book highlights numerous Yakima Valley walking and hiking trails, local pet services, dog friendly wineries and pet events.

The other Northwest cities included in the book are Seattle, Portland, Bend, Coeur d’Alene and Missoula. The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel can be found at local bookstores,  Amazon.com and National Geographic’s online bookstore.

Yakima Valley Tourism Launches Spring Marketing Campaign

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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 Many Benefits of Travel

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.

Win A Winter Get Away and Ski With Andy Mahre

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Need a winter get away? Look to the Yakima Valley for a contest to win a very special trip!

The winner (and 3 friends) will receive a private day of skiing with world class skier, Andy Mahre, on his home mountain, White Pass Ski Area in February, 2014.

“White Pass has some of the best skiing in the region and the home mountain to the famous Mahre family,” says John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “You have families and top notch professionals that ski there during the season.”

Lift tickets, ski equipment rental, food and beverage, a gas card, Downtown Yakima lodging and VIP Wine Tasting of Yakima Valley award-winning wines will all be included as part of the private ski day giveaway with Andy.

Andy has skied professionally for over 9 years. He grew up in Naches, 16 miles from Yakima, WA and his home mountain is nearby White Pass on Highway 12.  Andy is a kind, mellow, humble guy  raised by Olympic greatness.  His father Steve Mahre being a silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics only slightly behind his twin brother and Andy’s uncle Phil Mahre, Olympic gold medalist.  All of the Mahre’s call White Pass home.

“Hukana Some Powder!”  Andy is featured in many Warren Miller productions as well as ski movies by Poorboyz Productions, Matchstick Productions, Teton Gravity Research, and Nimbus Independent.

He is only 29 years old and currently sponsored by the greats in skiing -K2, Eddie Bauer/First Ascent, Dakine, Marker, and Evo. The Yakima Valley is very proud of this local phenomenon and invite you to enter to win a day skiing with Andy on his home mountain, White Pass!

Enter for a chance to ski with World Class Skier, Andy Mahre, at www.WinterInTheValley.com

Washington Wine Country Announces New Partnership With Hertz Car Rentals

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Yakima, WA:  Washington Wine Country announces the launch of a new collaborative effort with Hertz Rent-A-Car to promote Washington Wine Country. Launching this month, Hertz will be the official rental car company for the “Taste and Tote” program, making it easier and more affordable for visitors to tour the Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Valley wine regions.

As part of this partnership, Hertz will waive car drop-off fees for visitors flying into Yakima, Pasco or Walla Walla regional airports who wish to fly out of one of the other two airports. In addition, passengers that fly into those communities will receive a discount when using Hertz Corporate Discount Program (CDP) number 2016865.

“The Taste and Tote program has been a big success in the region and we believe the addition of Hertz as a partner will make the program more beneficial for our air travelers,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Existing features of the Taste and Tote program allow travelers on Alaska Airlines to check a case of wine free of charge within the U.S. plus customers can sample wines at nearly 200 participating wineries and pay no tasting fees when they show a current Alaska Airlines boarding pass from one of the three airports. Details on the Hertz offers and the Taste and Tote promotion can be found at www.tasteandtote.com or at http://www.visityakimavalley.org

About Washington Wine Country

Founded in 2003, Washington Wine Country is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wine-related tourism by fostering collaborative regional partnerships throughout the wine growing regions of the Yakima Valley, Tri Cities and Walla Walla in Eastern Washington, where more than 90 percent of Washington State’s wine grapes are grown. For more information, visit www.winecountrywashington.org.

About The Hertz Corporation
The Hertz Corporation operates its car rental business through the Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly brands from approximately 10,400 corporate, licensee and franchisee locations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and New Zealand. Hertz is the largest worldwide airport general use car rental brand, operating from approximately 8,800 corporate and licensee locations in approximately 150 countries. Hertz is the number one airport car rental brand in the U.S. and at 111 major airports in Europe. Dollar and Thrifty have approximately 1,580 corporate and franchisee locations in approximately 80 countries. Hertz is an inaugural member of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards Hall of Fame and was recently named, for the thirteenth time, by the magazine’s readers as the Best Car Rental Agency. Hertz was also voted the Best Overall Car Rental Company in Zagat’s 2013/14 U.S. Car Rental Survey, earning top honors in 10 additional categories, and the Company swept the global awards for Best Rewards Program and Best Overall Benefits from FlyerTalk.com. Product and service initiatives such as Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, NeverLost®, and unique cars and SUVs offered through the Company’s Adrenaline, Prestige and Green Traveler Collections, also set Hertz apart from the competition. Additionally, Hertz owns the vehicle leasing and fleet management leader Donlen Corporation and operates the Hertz 24/7 hourly car rental business. Hertz also operates one of the world’s largest equipment rental businesses, Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation, through approximately 350 branches in the United States, Canada, China, France, Spain and Saudi Arabia, as well as through its international licensees.

 

About Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines flies nonstop from Seattle to Walla Walla Regional Airport, Yakima Air Terminal, and the Pasco/Tri-Cities.

Service to Portland is also available from Pasco/Tri-Cities.  Connections can be made beyond Alaska’s Seattle and Portland hubs to destinations in Alaska, the lower 48, Mexico and Canada. To purchase tickets, visit www.alaskaair.com or by calling 1-800-ALASKAAIR.

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Washington Wine Tasting During The Harvest

The season has turned. Nights are cooler and as the sun rises, there’s a mist on the valley floor.  Gold and red trees dot the distant hills.  It’s harvest time in wine country.   If you plan right, fall is a great time to visit and immerse yourself in the wine making process.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy Washington Wine Country during the harvest:

  • Plan ahead: In wine country many visitors come during the harvest and crush. That requires extensive advance planning for lodging, dining and activities.  Here in the Yakima Valley the weekend traffic is manageable and there are great activities like the Prosser BalloonRally, the Wine Yakima Valley Catch the Crush event in October or the Thanksgiving in Wine Country event the weekend after Thanksgiving.
  • Check the website of the local tourist office: They’re a wealth of information, especially about harvest and wine events.  Also, regional and state wine associations are a good source to help you plan. In the Yakima Valley check the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail or Wine Yakima Valley for updates and information.
  • Learn before you go: Visit websites and videos about the regions and wine making process. Brush up on the art of tasting and basic wine terms. And if you use Twitter, try hashtags to follow the online conversations, like #WAwine.
  • Wine regions are agricultural regions: With a few exceptions, most vineyards and wineries are located on rural back roads. That’s part of their charm. During harvest though expect more traffic, especially farm equipment. In the Yakima Valley the wine grape harvest coincides with other fruit harvests. Be patient and obey the rules of the road.
  • Designate a driver: Basic rule for any season. Be sure to reward them for the duty though, like buying the lunch or a bottle for later on!
  • Pace Yourself: Plan on visiting up to five wineries a day. Your palette will go numb if you try to tackle too many wineries. Plus, during harvest you may want to linger to watch what’s happening.
  • Expect a different mood: It’s very different at wineries in the fall. There’s a tension and excitement as the winemakers and staff work to bring in the grapes. The hours are long and all hands are on deck. Ask questions about what’s going on, but be respectful if they have limited time to chat.
  • Prepare for the weather: And remember the wine! It may be cooler, but on sunny mild days the temperature inside a trunk or car can climb to a level not good for wine. Bring a cooler or two.
  • Get involved: Many wineries have programs where you can actually work the harvest. You wear your grubbies, get an assignment and work the fields harvesting or other tasks. It’s a great way to gain a greater appreciation of the hard work that goes into making wine plus learn directly from the winemakers.
  • Learn about dog friendly wineries: A great resource in Washington Wine Country is winedoggies.com
  • Fly to Washington Wine Country: Your Vacation to Washington Wine Country Just Got Easier – with the Taste and Tote Program. Check your first case of wine free from Yakima, Tri-Cities/Pasco or Walla Walla on Alaska Airlines. Enjoy waived rental car drop fees from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass for waived tasting fees at participating wineries.  Extra Benefits for booking your Taste and Tote Flight between September 1-15! Airlines to Yakima, Pasco/Tri-cities, or Walla Walla and save 10%! It’s easy; just enter EC2451 at alaskaair.com in the discount code box. The discount will be applied automatically. Travel September 1, 2012 – November 15, 2012, book by September 15, 2012. Not valid for travel from Mexico, Hawaii, or Prudhoe Bay. Additional terms, conditions, and restrictions apply.

With the right planning and attitude, a visit to a wine region during the harvest and crush is an exceptional way to learn about fine wines. Enjoy!

Wanted: Yakima Valley Dogs

Dexter looks out on the Cowiche Canyon Trail near Yakima

In March, the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau launched a website for visitors traveling with their dogs. Winedoggies.com features the many dog friendly attractions and services available in the Yakima Valley.  Highlights include a ‘doggie bloggie’ hosted by a local canine, an interactive map of dog-friendly businesses with pet policies, plus a section where guests can add pictures and stories of their dogs enjoying Washington wine country.

The Bureau is looking for submissions about local dogs and their favorite places to play in the Yakima Valley.  “This website was developed for visitors to the Valley traveling with their dogs,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “What better way to show all the great places to take your dog than to feature local dogs and their owners having fun?” Of course non-Yakima Valley dogs having fun while visiting the Valley are also welcome to submit a write up!

Submissions should be sent via e-mail to Kirsten@visityakima.com. They should provide a brief background about the dog(s) and include places the dog likes to visit in the Yakima Valley. A high resolution image of the dog(s) should also be attached. As an incentive, one entrant will be randomly chosen to receive a Yakima Valley Gift Basket on August 24th. Examples of dog stories can be found at the Your Doggie Stories tab.