State neglects tourism at its own peril

Sen. Braun on the Senate floor

I recently co-authored an opinion piece in the Puget Sound Business Journal regarding our state’s tourism industry. I worked on legislation this session to address this need. Washington State currently does not have a state funded tourism office, but tourism is a big driver of our economy and is the fourth largest industry in our state.

Sen. John Braun, R-Centrailia, chairs the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee and is president of Braun Northwest, a family-owned company that builds emergency vehicles and employs more than 150 workers. Louise Stanton-Masten is the executive director of the Washington Tourism Alliance.

Washington has it all for visitors. Spectacular mountains, beautiful seashore, abundant outdoor recreation, desert sunshine, mountain snow, urban sophistication, wineries and much more – it’s all here.

You might think we’d shout from the rooftops about the wonderful things we have to offer, but surprisingly, we don’t.

This is unfortunate, because despite the state’s benign neglect, tourism is a major Washington industry with the potential to be even bigger. The industry driven Washington Tourism Alliance has stepped up to the challenge, and it is incumbent on all of us to support its efforts to re-establish industry viability.

Tourism is Washington’s fourth-largest industry. Last year, it supported 154,500 Washington jobs with earnings of $5 billion…

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