Downtown Seattle skyline // (c) 2011 Jim Poth/Washington State Tourism
The Washington State Tourism Office, which has a $1.8 million annual budget, is slated for closure effective July 1, 2011. Washington governor Chris Gregoire approved the move as one way to address the state's dramatic budget shortfall.
In response, state tourism industry leaders have established the Washington Tourism Alliance, a nonprofit body whose sole mission is to sustain destination tourism marketing for the state.
According to WTA's Web site, "Our plan is to procure and administer funds for statewide destination tourism marketing activities and create and implement a strategic statewide destination marketing plan."
Comprised of tourism leaders from across the state, WTA will seek to gain state funding in order to keep key state tourism office services alive, including its Web site and call center.
At the same time, the group will be creating a model to fund the state's tourism program in the long run. Plans are being developed with budgets for the next three years.
WTA will host a tourism industry summit on March 31 in order to examine the challenges and opportunities ahead and to ensure that statewide marketing in Washington moves forward with an effective business plan.