Hot off the Grill: Legislative priorities in tourism

Hot off the Grill: Legislative priorities in tourism

Tourism is a $16.4 billion dollar industry in Washington that annually generates $1.8 billion dollars in tax revenue and supports over 150,000 jobs.

Despite its importance for the state and local economies, in 2011 the Legislature eliminated Washington’s Office of Tourism and cut all funding for promoting the state as a travel destination. Concerned that Washington’s tourism industry would lose visitors to neighboring states, industry stakeholders stepped in and formed the Washington Tourism Alliance with a mission to advocate, develop and sustain the economic well-being of the Washington tourism industry.

The foremost goal of the Washington Tourism Alliance is to establish an industry-funded and industry-governed state tourism promotion program. In 2014 the WTA, with support from the WRA, WLA and other partners, secured the passage of legislation that established the principle of a privately-funded state tourism and marketing program based on industry assessments on five industry sectors: lodging, food service, retail, attractions and entertainment, and transportation.

The total assessment from each industry is carefully apportioned to each sector in relation to their share of the tourism “pie.” Each of the five industries crafted a plan that drew considerable input on how to best assess themselves.

After much deliberation and statewide feedback, a legislative proposal was ready. House Bill 1938 and Senate Bill 5916 were introduced during the 2015 legislative session. But, despite our efforts, these bills failed to pass in 2015. Both WRA and WLA will work to have these bills reconsidered in the 2016 session.

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