I wrote this in support of proposed legislation from the Washington Tourism Alliance (11/17/15):
As the Executive Director of Recreation Northwest, a member of the Big Tent Coalition and the Chair of the City of Bellingham Tourism Commission, I see first hand the positive effect that recreation and tourism have on our local and state economies. A new state study, completed by the Recreation and Conservation Office in January 2015, finds that people in Washington State spend nearly $22 Billion each year in outdoor pursuits. Olympia is responding positively to recreation. Why not Tourism?!
The recreation community has had the support of Olympia through the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force to make recreation a priority for funding and support. This year, the Governor’s office created a new dedicated position for the Outdoor Recreation Sector. We need to have similar support for tourism to help develop our state’s tourism economy. Our neighbors in Oregon, Montana, Idaho and California have budgets between $10 and $60 million.
The bills proposed by the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) need to be accepted and implemented in Olympia. These bills do not contain any state funding; instead they ask the state to help collect funds — because the state already has the collection mechanism in place, while the WTA doesn’t. Funding will be generated by the tourism industry itself through assessments and voluntary contributions. Through these assessments, the WTA estimates a $7.5 million target budget.
The positive impact and potential for growth of our state tourism economy holds tremendous potential. Please enable this economic development tool to be used for the great state of Washington.
Todd Elsworth, Executive Director
Todd Elsworth is one of the many “Mossy-haired lunatics roaming the dripping peninsulas”, described in “I’m Here for the Weather” by Tom Robbins. As executive director, he works to fulfill our mission to teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.