Today is the last day for the Washington Tourism Office.
Some states have cut their tourism marketing budgets in recent years, but Washington State is taking things a step further—it’s eliminating its tourism agency altogether, becoming the first state to do so.
Closure of the office is expected to save about $1.8 million annually. But with tourism spending reaching $15.2 billion in 2010, and $1 billion generated in state and local tax revenue—based on the preliminary 2010 Travel Impacts Report/Washington State Department of Commerce and Washington State Tourism—the tourism budget, which even in previous years when it had reached up to $7 million, seems like a drop in the bucket considering the favorable return.
Determining just how much of the revenues can be pegged to the work of the tourism bureau is difficult however, and states are in a money crunch looking for any opportunity to cut funding from one program to save another in the short run.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any future tourism marketing for Washington State. The possible closure of the tourism bureau had been on the radar for at least a year, and a private group of tourism industry stakeholders formed the Washington Tourism Alliance in March, with the goal of sustaining statewide destination marketing campaigns and communications.
In just two months, the 17 founding partners, 16 associate partners and more than 120 members have raised more than $300,000. Expect the new group to also affiliate with founding member Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau and its advertising campaign “Why Tourism Matters” to help promote the value of tourism to the state’s citizens and politicans.
Photo: Washington Tourism Alliance