EVERETT — Snohomish County elected officials and stakeholders took part in a Tourism Summit Monday and Tuesday at the Angel of the Winds Arena conference center in Everett.
Last year, the county generated about $2 billion from tourism and outdoor recreation, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers has said. That’s the highest figure in the county’s history.
Local officials want to keep the money flowing in.
To that end, “Snohomish County is investing more than $1.4 million to attract more tourists and the dollars that come with them,” County Councilman Terry Ryan told more than 100 people who attended the inaugural tourism summit.
Deciding how best to allocate those dollars was a topic of discussion Tuesday. “We have to innovate to attract even more visitors,” said Ryan, who also chairs the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.
The regional competition for tourism dollars is fierce, he said.
But while tourism can create jobs and add money to private and public coffers, it also can raise the hackles of locals when it disrupts their lives or when officials fail to protect outdoor resources from being overrun.
Participants broke into small groups Tuesday to discuss how to keep local communities, which already struggle with traffic, parking and safety, reasonably happy and informed.
One suggestion: Communicate early and often to residents about upcoming events.
Another suggestion: Increase public transportation options to ease congestion.
Paine Field is the county’s No. 1 attraction, but “you can’t get to the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour unless you drive — there’s no public transportation,” said Tom Hingson, Everett Transit director, in a small group discussion.
In late March, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that creates a statewide tourism promotion program. A previous program was killed during the Great Recession by budget cuts. Until March, Washington was the only U.S. state without a statewide tourism marketing program.
Jon Snyder, outdoor recreation and economic development policy adviser to Gov. Inslee, told the summit that outdoor recreation alone supports nearly 200,000 jobs in the state.
Janice Podsada:; 425-339-3029; firstname.lastname@example.org.