Investing in Tourism, Ensuring Success
This past legislative session, our State Legislature and Governor faced difficult decisions concerning cuts and investments in state programs. Those cuts notwithstanding, we are pleased to announce that the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) has been awarded $1 million in one-time bridge funds to continue its efforts towards building a sustainable statewide tourism program.
Since the defunding of the Washington State Tourism Office in March 2011, our neighboring states with significantly higher tourism budgets (British Columbia: $55 million, Idaho: $9 million, Montana: $18 million and Oregon: $12 million) have continued to gain market share while Washington State's tourism growth has remained relatively stagnant. Alongside such numbers, $1 million in bridge funds may seem a short term solution, but such funding is crucial to sustaining the minimal level of tourism promotion as the WTA embarks on the final leg of its journey---the creation of an industry-led, industry-supported, statewide tourism marketing program.
Locally, Clark County's tourism has remained strong despite the lack of state support. Last year, visitors to Clark County spent more than $446,000,000 at local businesses and generated more than $29,300,000 in local and state taxes. Tourism also helped create a vibrant economy by providing employment opportunities for more than 4,000 workers in our area.
With such positive local growth, some might question the need for a statewide program. However, statewide tourism has a profound effect on our area's economy and provides our community with greater growth, more cash, additional jobs and local tax relief. By ensuring that we grow this vital industry, we ensure both the success of our businesses and the economic growth of our communities.
Eric Walters Kim Bennett
Board Chair, GM Hilton Vancouver President & CEO, Regional Tourism Office