Retail and tourism, a match made in community development

Jan 23, 2019
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

Today’s legislative panel on tourism took place with the House Innovation, Technology & Economic Development Committee. Headed by the Washington State Tourism Alliance Co-Chair, David Blandford, Senior VP of Public Affairs for Visit Seattle and Shiloh Burgess, Executive Director of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, the team spoke with enthusiasm about where we’ve been and where we are going.

As many know, the State Tourism Office closed in 2011 and in 2018 several versions of legislation were passed to helped reinstate the effort. In March 2018 Governor Inslee signed into law E4SSB 5251 that established a framework and funding for a statewide tourism marketing program.

The mission is clear – to advocate, promote, develop and sustain the economic well-being of the tourism industry.

The WTA is working on plans for matching funds and marketing activities. It’s charged with raising $3 million to match the state’s $1.5 million investment.

Primary goals:

  • Grow incremental visitor volume, expenditures, tax receipts and jobs
  • Expand tourism market share for the destination
  • Help rural communities leverage economic impact through tourism

Target markets will include outdoor adventure seekers, road trippers, food & wine travelers and international travelers. A wide range of strategies such as destination branding, advertising, social media and digital marketing will be employed.

It’s difficult to talk tourism without recognizing the hundreds of thousands of retailers represented in urban and rural communities around Washington State. One thing that tourists love is local culture. Retailers can tap into this local exploration by supporting artisans in their areas. Special events and experiential retail help tourists get a sense of the true community while buying local products from local businesses.

Essentially any retail operation that combines products that are exclusive to the area, delicious food and drink options, along with entertainment and activities is sure to be a top tourist destination.