without question, this is a time of opportunity for the tourism industry
It's true there are things happening locally and nationally that change the landscape for tourism marketing. Some states are beefing up by doubling or tripling their tourism marketing investment, because they realize it's a good investment. Tourism, of course, is economic development. It pays for its own marketing and delivers quality of life benefits to us as residents. It relieves our tax burden. It brings $15.2 billion in revenues to our state, and supports nearly 150,000 jobs. It's important business.

Washington, like many other states, is facing dire budget circumstances. The direction our state is heading is drastically reducing investment in economic development. It's eliminating the tourism office altogether. Yes, you read that right. As of July 1, 2011 there will be no Washington State Tourism Office at the Department of Commerce. From adversity springs opportunity.

Enter the Washington Tourism Alliance [WTA]. WTA has been born of necessity, and is our industry's response to the government's abdication from tourism marketing programs. A foundation has been built for Washington - the WTA takes that foundation and builds upon that with a new business model.

There is still much road to travel for our state and for the WTA - and your voice matters. Your participation is necessary. The decisions about the future of our industry are now ours and ours alone. The time to make those decisions and put plans into action is now.

Join the WTA for a statewide industry summit on Thursday, March 31, 2011:

Hilton Seattle Airport + Conference Center

17620 International Blvd, SeaTac, WA 98188

Registration: 8-9 a.m.

Summit: 9 a.m.-noon

Find information and register here: www.WATourismAlliance.com/Tourism_Industry_Summit.html