Like Juliet’s rose, tourism dollars by any other name would smell as sweet.
Which is why we’re swallowing a little pride and trying to warm to the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau’s new marketing brand for our beautiful region: Seattle NorthCountry True PNW.
NorthCountry and PNW, we get. But Seattle?
You would dare confuse us with those latte-sipping elitists. (Please ignore the Starbucks cup in our hand.)
As marketing brands go, it’s less of a head-scratcher than the Washington state tourism office’s invitation to “SayWA” about 13 years ago, but still requires some explanation.
The county bureau actually started using the phrase a year ago, but earlier this year it received trademark approval for the name and logo, now prominent on its webpage.
It won’t surprise anyone that the name is meant to help visitors locate the county and introduce them to its diverse attractions, as Amy Spain, the tourism bureau’s executive director, explained to The Herald’s Janice Podsada last month.
“We’re not talking to residents. They’re already in the know about the great things here,” Spain said.
And, yes, we do already know where we live, work and play and don’t need help pronouncing Mukilteo, Verlot or Stillaguamish.
But allow us some time to get used to hearing “Seattle NorthCountry.”
Honestly, we’re still smarting over the national media reports regarding the new passenger terminal at the Paine Field airport from earlier this year. The reviews of the new facility were glowing, and we were more than ready for our 15 minutes of fame; that’s Everett with two t’s, and Snohomish without a w.
“Seattle’s second airport” was how it came out in USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, among others.
That snicker you heard coming from the south was our big brother.
But if it takes trading on our brother’s name to draw visitors and their spending, we’re OK with that, especially since it’s mostly Seattleites who are pulling out their wallets.
A recent study by Arrivalist, a marketing and consulting firm that pulls location data from mobile devices to track visitors, found that about 80 percent of the county’s visitors are from the Seattle-Tacoma region, Podsada reported last week. Only about 5 percent are from out-of-state.
Yet another survey by a tourism research company, Portland’s Dean Runyon Associates, found that visitors to Snohomish County spent about $1.2 billion here last year. Those staying overnight spent more than $772 million at hotels, restaurants and local businesses, while day-trippers parted with $294 million, the study found.
That was enough to make tourism the county’s third largest industry after aerospace and agriculture. To keep those visitors coming, the county increased the amount it spends on tourism marketing and promotion by $200,000 to $1.6 million, funded by the hotel/motel tax that’s allocated only to tourism. That’s an investment that, in addition to helping to employ 11,000 people last year, brought in $24 million in sales tax revenue to local communities and $60 million to the state.
There’s potential now as well for “Seattle’s second airport” to increase the number of out-of-state visitors joining the Seattleites already here.
So, for Seattleites who consider Snohomish County their backyard, welcome. And those from out-of-state, yes, we’ll answer to Seattle NorthCountry.
But if you really want to impress the other folks in line for coffee, feel free to call us by our real names.