Unexpectedly, longtime county tourism director is departing

Amy Spain has led the marketing agency since 2005 and has worked there since 1996.

Amy Spain

Amy Spain

SNOHOMISH — Amy Spain, who has led Snohomish County’s tourism marketing initiatives since 2005, plans to leave her post as director of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau.

Spain, who joined the bureau in 1996 as group sales executive, recently announced her plans on LinkedIn, the social media career website.

“After 23 years with the tourism bureau, it’s time I find my joy elsewhere,” Spain wrote on LinkedIn. She added that her departure marks the end of “this part of a career in which I was given the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people, learned and shared, guided and followed, and laughed and cried in this wonderful tourism industry.”

There has been no official announcement regarding her plans, but in an email Spain indicated that her last day would be Aug. 2. She did not provide a reason for leaving.

Snohomish County contracts with the tourism bureau, which is overseen by a board of directors, for tourism marketing and related services.

Sara Blayne, who co-chairs the tourism bureau’s board of directors, said in an email Tuesday that the board is “not prepared to comment at this time. We have a board meeting on Thursday and we will be prepared with a statement on Friday following that meeting.”

Before joining the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau, Spain spent years working mostly in hotels and marketing. Raised in Arizona, she took her first job at a hotel in the mid-1980s, according to a 2005 Herald story.

Spain was chosen in 2005 by the tourism bureau’s board to lead the agency, which is supported in part by the county’s hotel and motel tax revenue.

“She put Snohomish County on the map,” Warren Beach, vice president of operations at SMJ Management, said of Spain. The firm manages hotels in Burlington and the Everett area and this month announced plans to build two Marriott-brand hotels near Paine Field’s new passenger terminal. The pair will be located in the 11400 block of Airport Road, on the east side of the road near 112th Street SW.

“Her passion for the tourism industry is beyond question,” Beach said. “I don’t believe she ever walked into her office and saw it as a job — because she has such a passion for this county.”

The agency recently launched the “Seattle NorthCountry True PNW” marketing slogan to help visitors locate the county and introduce them to its diverse attractions.

After aerospace and agriculture, tourism is the county’s third-largest industry, according to a study by Dean Runyon Associates, a tourism research firm. Tourism and related fields employ 11,000 people, and generate $24 million in local taxes and $60 million in state taxes.

In 2017, the county generated about $2 billion from tourism and outdoor recreation, officials have said.

Spain “worked very hard to advance tourism,” said Snohomish County Councilman Terry Ryan, who has chaired the council’s lodging tax committee for six years.

“She’a a wealth of information and readily shares that information with everyone.”

In her farewell message on LinkedIn, Spain said: “I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished in my career and what I’ve helped to create in Snohomish County and its communities.

“I don’t know what lies before me but I look forward to another great adventure after some much needed rest and time to dream,” she said.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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