The Edwards Agency

Business

Chamber proposes $82,000 for tourism

tourism program by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--The Chamber of Commerce asked the City Council last week for $82,000 towards promoting the city and its attractions to a regional tourist audience and staffing the visitor information center at City Hall.
   This year, with a partnership of $32,000--$8,000 per quarter--the tourism program produced and distributed 20,000 visitor shopping guides, all of which have been distributed with businesses clamoring for more; four quarterly events calendars; a business directory; and lure brochures.
   "I think we did a very good job of reaching the 167,000 people that spend money in Woodinville," Chamber Director Jeffrey Shaw told the City Council, citing a demographics profile compiled by the chamber. "(The TRF project) will help us retain that."
   Shaw said he recognized that the funding request was a "big jump" over last year's, but maintained that it was "the next step in developing Woodinville as a tourist destination."
   Shaw outlined the plans for expending the funds: $51,000 for a part-time tourism director with full-time clerical support, supplies, and a computer system; $12,000 to reprint the visitors shopping guide, expand the lure brochure, continue the calendar of events, and produce a tourism/business directory. Promotion of local events, a marketing plan, and regional advertising would total $19,000. Next year, the chamber hopes to hire a marketing specialist to determine Woodinville's tourism market.
   "We can't do this by ourselves," Ken Grant, public affairs director for Associated Vintners, told the council. "We can't have people getting off of the plane and saying 'I've never heard of Woodinville.' It's very important that we get the name branding going."
   Kirsten Molbak told the council the visitor information center is instrumental to retain dollars in the city.
   The city had budgeted $55,000 towards a continued partnership with the chamber, but the council seemed receptive to last week's proposal. Last year's proposal was an even match of city dollars to chamber dollars, but this year the chamber proposes $40,000 to 50,000 in in-kind contributions and funds to the city's $82,000.
   Councilmember Lucy DeYoung said the investment has proven to be a good one, translating into increased tax revenue with the prospect for more as marketing the city continues.
   "We've said that one of our top priorities is developing the city for tourism," DeYoung said. "I view this like any of the other contract services, like the YMCA. We're not hiring additional staff (to accomplish these goals.)"
   "We're always interested in getting people to come to Woodinville," said Mayor Bob Miller, "but we're also interested in getting the best bang for our buck."