A beautiful sight to see.

Washington’s pristine beauty and diverse geography and culture are natural draws for tourists around the world. Tourism is the state’s fourth largest industry, generating $21.4 billion in annual spending and contributing $1.8 billion in state and local taxes.

Every county in the state benefits from the tourism sector. Statewide, 182,700 workers are employed in tourism-related businesses and pursuits.

Approximately two-thirds of travelers are Washington residents who want to explore the state’s many natural wonders, particularly those related to outdoor recreation. The diversity of the climate and geography lends itself to year-round recreation and sports, from surfing and horseback riding to skiing, boating and camping.

International travelers are an important part of the mix as well. While the strong dollar and intense competition from other U.S. destinations have resulted in some lower numbers in recent years, international visitors still spend more than $2 billion annually in Washington. Even with the decrease in international visitors, the industry saw increases in overall visitations, average spending and revenue. According to a recent report, every dollar spent by an out-of-state traveler in Washington generates $1.36 in additional economic impact.

Washington also serves as a natural gateway for adventure before and after other travel opportunities. In recent years Seattle has become a base for Alaska-bound cruise ships and the region’s major international airport, Sea-Tac International, offers direct access to major cities around the world, creating additional stop over and extended stay opportunities for travelers who want to explore Washington’s many wonders.

A public-private partnership

In 2011, the tourism industry stopped receiving state funding for marketing and the state tourism office was closed. Since then, the industry-supported Washington Tourism Alliance has spearheaded Washington’s tourism marketing efforts, including managing the state’s tourism website, ExperienceWa.com.

In 2017, Washington’s legislature provided funding for a new tourism marketing plan to support and expand the industry’s visitor attraction efforts. The Department of Commerce and the Washington Tourism Alliance, along with project consultant Green Rubino, completed work on the Tourism Marketing Plan in February 2018. A major component of the plan focuses on promoting destinations, activities and venues in rural, tribal and underserved communities throughout the state.

The legislature also created the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA), which oversees a state fund of $1.5 million annually that can be used to attract visitors to the state. The legislation also provided for the execution of the new tourism plan through a public-private partnership so the state can be marketed to potential visitors domestically and internationally.

Need more information about Washington’s tourism sector?

If you have questions about Washington’s dynamic tourism sector, contact the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness at (206) 256-6111 or email us at moreinfo@choosewashingtonstate.com.

Or visit Washington’s tourism website to learn more about the state’s many attractions and destinations.

Tourism Marketing Plan

Tourism Guide

Meeting & Board Updates

A list of meetings and updates concerning WTMA activities can be found on the Commerce website.

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