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WA Legislature Passes Tourism Bill
HB 2229 Headed to Governor
Olympia, Wash. - Last night, the Washington State Senate
passed Substitute House Billl 2229 to support study of long-term tourism
funding legislation in the next session. The bill, which has been vigorously
promoted by the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) and the statewide tourism
industry, now goes to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature.
"We are very grateful for the Legislature passing this
bill and recognizing how important statewide tourism is," said Cheryl
Kilday, Visit Spokane President & CEO, who serves as Chair of the Board of
the WTA. "Since the closure of the state tourism office in 2011, many
people have been working very hard to restore state tourism marketing without
using state funds. This is another very important step toward that goal."
If signed by the governor, which is expected, the bill will
recognize a structure, level of funding and governance for a private,
non-profit marketing program for the state. The bill also directs state
agencies to work with the WTA to create a collection methodology for long-term
tourism marketing funds.
The WTA's tiered funding framework would assess key sectors
of the tourism industry, including lodging, food service, transportation,
attractions and entertainment, and retail. No state funds would be needed. The
bill does require the WTA to submit a report to the legislature in December
2014 which will propose the collection method and governance structure. The WTA
may, then, return to the legislature if needed in the 2015 session to amend the
legislation to allow for collection of the assessments.
"What this bill does is stipulate that an initial budget of
$7.5 million is reasonable to implement a competitive state tourism program and
identifies the five major areas that benefit from statewide tourism," said
Senator John Braun. "It then directs several state agencies to work with the
WTA and industry representatives to present a report to the legislature by
December of this year about how we could best fund tourism on a long-term
Since the legislature closed the state tourism office in
2011, the private, non-profit, industry-led WTA has operated on a minimal
budget with limited support, establishing incremental funds through membership
and corporate sponsorships. Additionally, last year the WTA secured short-term
bridge funding (approximately $800,000) from the state to underwrite the basics
of a tourism marketing program. That enabled the WTA to maintain the state's
consumer travel web site, postage for mailing the Washington State Visitors'
Guide, operation of a travel call center, research and minimal international
"We're so grateful to the prime sponsors of the bill,
Senator John Braun, Senator Marilyn Chase, Representative Jeff Morris and
Representative Sherry Appleton," said Louise Stanton-Masten, WTA Executive Director. "We also
thank each legislator throughout our state for their votes to pass this bill,
and for their recognition of the importance of the tourism industry in our
About the Washington Tourism Alliance
The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) is a 501[c]6
organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of
sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing. The WTA procures and
administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and
creates and implements a strategic statewide destination marketing plan.
About Visit Spokane
Visit Spokane generates economic growth for Spokane County by successfully marketing the Spokane Region as the destination for conventions and leisure travelers from around the world. The proof is in: Visitors to Spokane County spent an estimated $870 million in 2012, providing jobs for nearly 9,820 residents in the region and generating $60.9 million in non-resident tax dollars collected in Spokane County.*
*Figures provided by Dean Runyan Associates report for the year ending 2012.