Tourism did matter Thursday as the South Sound hospitality industry met at the Landmark Convention Center for the annual “Tourism Matters” meeting of the Tacoma Regional Convention + Visitor Bureau.
This was the first such meeting for the group’s new president and CEO, Bennish Brown, and the first under the leadership of incoming board chairwoman Monique Trudnowski. “I have drank the tourism Kool-Aid,” Trudnowski said, looking back to the 1989 incorporation of the group.
She noted the effect of tourism locally – as well as the effect of the recent recession, which saw the number of restaurants in Pierce County go from a high of 1,666 in 2010 to an estimated 1,370 today – which represents an increase of 35 over 2011. She rallied the group with an exclamation, “We say there ain’t no stopping us now.”
“We need to tell our story,” said Brown, whether that story concerns the towns of Pierce County, the tribal heritage, the benefits of agritourism or the individuals who comprise the tapestry of life hereabouts.
He told more than 100 industry insiders at the luncheon that the average visitor to Tacoma and Pierce County is in his or her mid-40s, is married and has one child.
He said local hotels and convention facilities has so far booked 18,000 room nights through 2015, and that another 108,000 possible bookings can be identified as solid leads. And the guests who will stay, or those who are thinking of coming to Tacoma, “won’t care if we don’t tell them our story.”
The theme of storytelling continued as the publishers of the latest Tacoma and Pierce County visitors’ guide outlined their new book, which will be available for distribution early next year.
SagaCity Media principals Rob Scott and Bill Hutfilz explained that their company already publishes the statewide visitors’ guide as well as a series of magazines including Seattle Met, Bride & Groom, Out Aloha and Portland Monthly. The new local guide will focus on stories as well as including such guidebook staples as itineraries, calendars and maps.
The stories, said Hutfilz, will work to inspire “people to make their commitment to come here.”
For the sixth consecutive year, the bureau on Thursday announced its annual “Celebrity Awards” given to members of the industry. The 2012 winners included:
• Alan Anderson, coach of the National Junior Champion Gig Harbor Canoe Kayak Team and founder of the Gig Harbor Paddlers Cup and Expo, for the Fred Shanaman Sports Tourism Award.
• Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team for the Community Unity Award.
• Traci Nelson of the Hollander Hotel Group for the Tourism Professional of the Year Award.
• Joe Harwick of Pacific Grill Events and Catering for the Allen C. Mason Tourism Visionary Award.
Following the meeting, Trudnowski praised the recently announced agreement between the bureau and the City of Tacoma, whereby the bureau will facilitate some bookings at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. Under the agreement, three bureau employees will staff offices at the center and will sell dates for conventions scheduled for 14 months and beyond, while center employees will continue to book groups for gatherings scheduled less than 14 months away.C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 email@example.com