On March 9, more than 250 tourism industry professionals from Everett, Lynnwood, Bothell and around the state including Yakima, Tacoma, Spokane, Bellingham, Vancouver, Seattle and many other communities across Washington converged on the state capitol to tell legislators Why Tourism Matters. An industry rally and press conference was held on the state capitol’s north steps by a coalition of convention and visitor bureaus, chambers of commerce and other destination marketing organizations from across the state.
The effort inaugurates the statewide roll-out of the Why Tourism Matters public outreach and advocacy campaign which conveyed the importance of tourism by way of advertising, online content, public relations and cooperative communications.
The campaign website at www.whytourismmatters.com features the latest tourism statistics for the Snohomish County, the state and many communities, industry news and links to national initiatives. Much of the web site is dedicated to profiles of local tourism industry professionals, or “tourism ambassadors,” who work on the frontlines and serve as the industry’s face of tourism.
These tourism ambassadors attended the press event in Olympia. Other participants - many clad in work-day uniforms and costumes - represent the spectrum of the tourism industry: from hotel managers and housekeeping attendants to restaurateurs and servers, tour leaders, travel agents, convention center presidents, vintners, artists, bell captains, tour boat captains and at least one cabaret performer.
“Today the tourism industry in Washington State has many messengers but one common message: tourism matters,” said Katherine Kertzman, President of the Washington State Destination Marketing Organizations (WSDMO). “Visitors to the state spent $15.7 billion here
last year and generated $1 billion in state and local taxes. Tourists support nearly 150,000 jobs and generate $4.3 billion in earnings.”
Following the rally, the statewide tourism industry contingent called on state legislators to ask for their support in two areas of concern: maintaining current funding levels for the 2009-2011 state tourism office budget; and support of SB 5875 and SHB 2297 which call for funding to study expansion options for the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.
Today’s state initiatives coincide with national news, including current tourism industry efforts to counterbalance the harmful political rhetoric and sensationalism that is influencing the unnecessary cancellation of corporate meetings and events across the U.S.
The U.S. Travel Association of America ranks $740 billion travel and tourism industry fifth in nation among 20 major private industry sectors. The industry directly employees 7.5 million people, generates payroll of $178 billion and tax revenues of about $110 billion. Visitors to the U.S. spent more here than U.S. residents traveling abroad, creating a positive balance of trade of $8.3 billion for the national economy.
Washington State’s core of private sector destination marketing organizations competitively market their respective cities, counties and regions to leisure travelers and meeting and convention groups. Largely non-profit economic development agencies, these convention and visitor bureaus and chambers of commerce work in tandem with the Washington State Tourism Commission and Washington State Tourism office to jointly position the state as a premier travel destination. Direct visitor spending benefits hotels, retailers, restaurants, attractions, transportation services and other businesses, and supports jobs in throughout the state.
In Snohomish County, visitors spend $881.7 million annually, contributing more than $64.4 million in state and local tax revenues. Direct visitor spending benefits retailers, restaurants, attractions, transportation services, hotels and other businesses, and provides employment for over 9,600 people in Snohomish County.