Death, Taxes and DMOs

Ah, the beauty of Washington.

Tourism is a gift that can be removed as swiftly as it appeared.

Last week, our friends in Washington had their Office of Tourism shuttered in an effort to save a meager $2 million dollars and close a $5.2 billion (B!) dollar budget gap.

The ‘savings’ amounts to an impact of 0.0003% to the overall shortfall in the Evergreen State.

And yet reasonable people, like you or I, thought this was a good idea.


How could this happen?

Because CVBs, DMOs and the entire tourism industry is viewed as a luxury, not a necessity to cities, states and regions.

It is the reason why Washington State Tourism was eliminated with little fanfare (Bill Geist and Reyn Bowman notwithstanding) and the explanation for our long overdue addition of a national DMO.

Simply put, lawmakers and Joe Public view the tourism industry with a very basic perspective:

Tourism = Vacation.  Vacation = Fun.  Fun ≠ Necessity.

Police officers = Necessity.

Firemen = Necessity.

Education = Necessity.

Tourism funding should not be viewed as an expendable luxury, but rather as an economic foundation of great cities.

Even with a world-class destination, tourism promotion is required.

Cities will not promote themselves.  Natural wonders do not tweet their merits.  Culture cannot tell stories.

Passionate people bring visitors to a destination.

And passionate people must stand up for a destination.  Educate the public.  Build trust.  Create a community where the loss of tourism is seen as a loss of a critical public service.

Where the loss of tourism is lamented alongside the loss of public parks, schools and jobs.

No doubt there are passionate tourism advocates in Washington, unfortunately their passion was not seen as critical to the state budget.

Tourism is a critical service.

Even in Washington.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.