Posted by Dan Mead Smith on May 10, 2023


President Beth welcomed us on a beautiful spring Seattle day.  Don Murphy and Jevon Powell on guitar led us in “The Seattle Song” (the bluest skies are in Seattle) by Perry Como was fitting!  Trish Bostrom inspired and encouraged us to “be an instrument of peace” as our late member and past president Todd Summerfelt used to do by reading the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
Ken Grant introduced our short program speaker, Jamie Peha, executive director of the Auction of Washington Wines which is the philanthropic arm of our state’s wine industry (the other two pieces of the industry as she explained are: WA Wine Commission – marketing arm and WA Wine Institute – legislative/advocacy work).  Jamie mentioned that there are now over 1,000 wineries across the state, ranking us only behind California!  The Auction of Washington Wines raises money for their partner organizations that include Seattle Childrens Hospital (uncompensated care), WSU Viticulture and Enology (research and sustainability) and Vital Wines.  Their main event is a weeklong auction in August which she encouraged us to attend this summer.
President Beth introduced our main speaker, Tammy Canavan, president/CEO of Visit Seattle. Tammy provided some interesting statistics on tourism and how it has bounced back from COVID, the importance of it to our economy and how “tourism benefits our residents by increasing our quality of life.”  Some key stats:
  • Seattle welcomed 34 million visitors last year who spent over $7 billion and provided $689 million in tax revenue. 
  • Visitor volume was 42 million in 2019, dropped to 20 million in 2020 and rebounded to 34 million last year. Workers that are connected to tourism was over 80,000 in 2019, dropped to about 49,000 and then was about 62,000 last year.
She mentioned that their main job is to grow the tourism industry. They are the sales arm of the State Convention Center, and one of their main roles is to tell stories of what visitors and conventions bring to town. They are trying to “tell our story better” so residents can understand tourism.
The perception is that they do a lot of advocacy, which they do, but their four main units are:
  • Meetings and conventions
  • Domestic Leisure Visits
  • International Leisure Visits
  • Community Engagement and Public Affairs
She encouraged us to check out the new Summit/Convention Center which is roughly the same size as the current one/Arches.  She said it “reflects the culture of the Pacific Northwest” and has the most beautiful ballroom she has ever been in.  Tammy mentioned they are working on a new strategic plan and encouraged us to engage with them via their forthcoming survey and focus groups.
Questions included: how Visit Seattle markets to Gen Z, the alignment between Seattle and Tacoma when it comes to tourism, how they handle negative attention such as CHOP, and a suggestion to be more “colorful” in their promotion of Seattle.
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