Recently, the Yakima Herald ran an excellent column on the importance of tourism for the state of Washington. The article, written by John Cooper of the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, contained some alarming statistics about spending on tourism promotion within the state, suggesting that while Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia all have significant funds to allocate to tourism promotion to lure visitors, Washington continues to keep spending low. In fact, the state tourism office was shuttered and completely defunded in 2011, as a result of budget concerns.
John Creighton, Seattle Port Commissioner, shares the concerns expressed by Mr. Cooper, and he hopes to convince policymakers and the public alike to revise their thinking about the importance of tourism within the state. Since tourism is responsible for some 51,000 jobs in the Seattle area alone, it’s a conversation well worth having. Last year, revenue from the state tourism sector topped $16 billion.
People who live in Seattle might be well aware of the sights and sounds the city has to offer. They might know all about the concerts they can attend, the wines they can try, the restaurants that provide the choicest morsels and the museums they can visit. Those who don’t live in the area, however, might not have any idea that any of these delights even exist. They might believe that Seattle is all about coffee and fish, and without promotion, their ideas might not ever change.
For Commissioner Creighton, every dollar spent on tourism promotion is a dollar well spent. Each tourist will spend money on food, transportation, lodging and entertainment. And if the experience is positive, that tourist might tell a friend, and another visit might take place in the future. Luring in just one person could mean bringing in much-needed revenue for the state, and those funds could be used for infrastructure, education and more. Budgets are tight, Commissioner Creighton knows, but promoting tourism could be the key to a successful future for Seattle.