OLYMPIA –The Washington Hospitality Association is proud to recognize the following 2018 Legislative Heroes: Sen. Christine Rolfes, D- Kitsap County, Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, Rep. Kristine Reeves, D- Federal Way, and Rep. Cary Condotta, R-Wenatchee.

The number one legislative priority of the Washington Hospitality Association in 2018 was to pass a bill and secure funding for a statewide tourism marketing program. After a multi-year effort and unanimous support of the Legislature, the bill earned the governor’s signature.

Rolfes has earned the hospitality industry’s appreciation for being a champion of tourism. As chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee she supported tourism funding in the supplemental operating budget from start to finish. Rolfes also continually advocated for a statewide tourism marketing program with stakeholders and her colleagues. Without her critical support, Washington state would not have its statewide tourism marketing program.

“Senator Rolfes had the vision to see the big picture,” said Patricia Graf-Hoke, director of Visit Kitsap Peninsula. “As a long-time advocate, she recognizes the state’s tourism industry generates millions in state and local tax dollars used to fund community and social service programs.”

Graf-Hoke added, “Equally important, Sen. Rolfes understands that the tourism industry provides real economic benefits to thousands of businesses, especially smaller establishments in rural areas of the state to keep their doors open and residents employed. Thanks to the Senator’s continued commitment to lead a bi-partisan coalition, the state now has the seeds to grow a marketing program to promote Washington’s tourism assets and compete with other states for valuable tourism dollars.”

As a co-sponsor of the tourism bill and as a voice for small, rural communities, Warnick became a hospitality industry hero. Her perspective was very important during the conversations and process of gaining support among legislators and passing the bill.

“Judy Warnick knows her district very well, particularly Grant County, and always has our best interest at heart,” said Marilyn Meseberg, board member of the Grant County Tourism Commission. “Tourism is the 3rd largest industry in Grant County and we are pleased that she recognizes this by supporting the tourism marketing program.”

Reeves is a strong advocate for the small business community. Her actions during the 2018 Legislative Session proved her as a valuable friend to the hospitality industry. Reeves also brings an understanding of the strengths and opportunities of public/private partnerships.

“There is no business without passion,” said Rebecca Martin, CEO of the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce. “It takes courage, willpower, creativity, and an unwavering belief that what you are doing will make the community stronger. Rep. Reeves not only shares these qualities with business leaders, but also understands the necessity of developing economic strategies that support growth and prosperity. It’s clear that her efforts will enhance the long-term sustainability of business throughout our great state.”

Condotta is a long-time friend and hospitality industry champion. His voice in support of small businesses and tourism in our state will be incredibly missed when he retires later this year.

“Representative Condotta understands the importance of the tourism and hospitality industry to our local and state economy. He dedicated the last three years of his legislative service to creating a statewide tourism marketing program that would be industry lead and industry supported,” said Shiloh Schauer, executive director of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We wouldn’t have the opportunity to build a statewide tourism marketing program focused on national and international travelers without his vision, leadership, and support.”