Moves by county officials on tourism are puzzling

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers is being short-sighted about the need to expand the role of tourism in Snohomish County. I have been a volunteer at the county’s Visitor Center for 10 years. The volunteers were caught by surprise to learn the county was completely revamping the plans for tourism and closing the visitor centers.

First the order came to close and move the offices of county tourism under the Parks and Recreation Department. The Parks and Recreation Department knows zero about tourism. This move sparked a turf war: staff decisions, sharing office space and worse, budget sharing.

Then we learned that Somers would be using the funds for web development to market the county and therefore closing the visitor centers. The building in the city of Snohomish is owned by the Chamber, all volunteers. The building in Lynnwood is a parks building, all volunteers. One paid staff supervisor managed all three centers. Boeing owns the third location at the Museum of Flight also maned by volunteers, and still operational.

The Tourism staff has been resigning at a steady rate. Some local cities have opened there own visitor centers because of the large amounts of money generated for the area by tourism. Many areas are expanding the visibility by opening more centers. Our County reaps millions in tourism dollars. The cost of the visitor centers was peanuts in comparison.

The education for directing and marketing tourism is no small skill and should not be left to Tom Teigen in the Parks Department. There is large competition to pull tourism dollars into our area, conventions, sporting events, tournaments, and music venues. We need to keep our hotels full.

We want the money spent here. Please urge the County Council to reverse course.

Susan Gemmer

Lake Stevens

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