KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Last year, state lawmakers eliminated the state tourism board, making Washington the only state in the country without allocated tourism dollars.
Now businesses of all sizes all over Washington are working together to overcome their lack of resources. April 5th, more than 400 hospitality related businesses met in Seattle, as part of the Washington Tourism Alliance.
Representatives, from the Tri-Cities Visitor's and Convention Bureau were also there, including President and CEO Kris Watkins. Watkins say the members all contribute money to the organization, but it still doesn't come close to having an official tourism board funded by the state.
Watkins also say the reason states like California are successful is because they market, like a business, and we need to do the same in Washington or be prepared to lose out.
"They are always promoting California. It's a great destination known for Napa, Disney Land,etc, but they continue to market their state aggressively, and many states continue to market because you have to continue that brand awareness or people forget," says Watkins.
Last week, the federal government formed a board to promote international tourism, called Brand USA. It is funded by a ten dollar fee charged on all international passports coming into the country.
Watkins says, if Washington doesn't figure out a way to maintain a strong marketing presence, we can miss out on taking advantage of Brand USA.