Washington State Tourism Office Closing

KOMO News: Washington state just made another list, and it's not flattering. The state is dead last on the amount of money it spends on efforts to attract tourists.

And it may not get better soon. The state's tourism office shuts down next week. It died on the legislative floor in budget talks.

But on any given sunny day, Seattle's Pike Place Market is crawling with tourists from all corners of the world. So is it a big deal if the state's tourism office closes?

"It's just like a whole basket of marbles and all different colors. And everybody's trying to reach out to the same message. It doesn't really brand us properly as one cohesive group,' said Tom Waithe of Kimpton Hotels. Waithe said sure, people will still come to Seattle, but what about the rest of the state?

Zoe and Roland Bell provided the perfect example. They drove their RV from Texas to Seattle and went to the market only because they saw a travel show about it. "We were looking for information from the time we hit the state line, and we couldn't find anything, didn't know what to do. It's hurtin' you," Bell said.

"There really is a much broader effect than just the people employed by the tourism industry," said Tammy Blount with the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor Bureau. Blount said businesses scrambled to form a co-op to quickly replace the tourism office with the Washington Tourism Alliance.

"The power of Washington -- it is a beautiful place. But without marketing, we're going to lose that market share," she said. The alliance has grabbed the state's assets, including its website, marketing databases, stationery and trade show booths. So far, the group has also raised $300,000.

Washingtonians can also join the alliance. Membership levels start as low as $25.


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