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Visit Spokane Media Release
Contact: Tim Robinson
Director of Communications & Public Relations
Visit Spokane
509.993.9824 - c
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 basis."

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 marketing.

"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 state."

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.


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