UPDATE: The bill, as Second Engrossed Fourth Substitute Senate Bill 5251 has been concurred in the Senate and is headed to the governor’s desk!

OLYMPIA – Engrossed Fourth Substitute Senate Bill 5251, a bill creating a statewide tourism promotion program, has passed unanimously in the Washington State House of Representatives. Passage of this bill is the Washington Hospitality Association’s top legislative priority for the 2018 Legislative Session. While the bill will need to go back to the Senate for concurrence and be included in the supplemental operating budget, this is a major step forward for tourism in the state of Washington.

The passage of E4SSB 5251 has been a multi-year effort led by the Washington Tourism Alliance, the Washington Hospitality Association, and a broad tourism coalition who have worked to keep tourism in Washington state alive. The Washington State Office of Tourism officially closed its doors in 2011.

The bill creates the Washington State Tourism Marketing Authority and redirects 0.2 percent of retail sales tax collected on lodging, restaurants and rental cars to fund the implementation of the statewide tourism promotion program. Under the bill, in Fiscal Year 2019, the tourism authority may receive up to $1.5 million and up to $3 million per biennium from the general fund. The bill also includes an opportunity for a public/private partnership and a two-to-one industry-led match bringing the total funds up to $9 million per biennium.

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E4SSB passed in the House of Representatives 98-0 and will need to go back to the Senate for concurrence before heading to the governor’s desk for signature. The tourism promotion plan must also be included in the final supplemental operating budget.