Gateway: Opinion

Businesses, entire community keeping eye on countdown to US Open

So, you’ve heard the largest sporting championship event ever hosted in the state of Washington is coming soon to a location near us, but what does that mean for Gig Harbor? What can we do now?

As all of the golfers and hospitality professionals in the region are abuzz with news of the United States Golf Association coming to Pierce County this year, many of us are left thinking, what is in this for us? What can we do? What does it really mean? Will we be overrun with visitors?

Well, the answer is really, hold on for dear life!

Okay, so I am only kidding, of course, but there are many questions surrounding the upcoming U.S. Open golf championship coming June 15-21 to Chambers Bay in University Place, just a hop-skip-jump away from us, and just a few weeks away. I must admit, because of the scope of this event, there is a bit of uncertainty as to the impact it may have on our area.

First, let me tell you. I have full faith in the USGA. The organization has been hosting this event for more than 100 years, after all. USGA officials have been in western Washington for years planning and preparing for this week in June. They have done research and have planned accordingly. We are actually in a great position. We are far enough removed that the nitty gritty, such as parking on lawns and vendor sales — those things will not impact us. We will see more visitors, certainly. One of the best things we can do as a community is be welcoming to the officials, spectators and vendors that may be in town due to the event.

Yes, we are removed from Chambers Bay by a few miles. But that does not mean we will not have officials staying in our hotels and eating in our restaurants. While we will not be overrun with parking lots and traffic, we will have additional visitors in town, so expect them. After talking with prior communities that have hosted the event, it is highly recommended that folks who have face to face contact with visitors show interest in the championship, follow along with the events of the day, follow the leaderboard, learn something new about golf and talk about it. It is in our backyard, after all. Put on our best face for the community and the surrounding area, and hope for great weather!

If you are not a frontline hospitality worker, what can you do as residents of Gig Harbor?

On May 2, the Downtown Waterfront Alliance, in partnership with the City, is hosting “Gigging up the Harbor – a spring cleanup and beautification day.” Feel free to join in! This is for business owners, hospitality workers, residents, families, groups. The plan is to meet at Skansie Park and divvy up chores, and then spread out and tackle projects. Bring your own tools, or just muscle. Everyone is welcome. You are even invited back for a lunch at the park at 1 p.m., upon completion. We hope to have a great turnout for this event. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. Plus, it is guaranteed to be a fun time.

If you cannot make it to the park that day, take charge of a project in your own neighborhood or at your own place of business. Think of it as the largest spring cleaning party ever!

Other tips for businesses as you prepare for the month of June and tourist season, check out your website. Now would be a good time to have a thorough review of your website to make sure that it is up to date. Here are some things to consider and/or check for:

• Hours of operation, plus any extended hours during the U.S. Open



• Discounts or promotions, for all of your potential guests, and U.S. Open attendees



• Distance from Chambers Bay Golf Course and/or from a designated parking hub (those will be announced in April by the USGA)



• Distance from SeaTac Airport, and/or the TIW Airport in Gig Harbor



• Check for broken links to web pages



• Check that your physical location maps correctly from Google Maps, Yahoo and Bing



Most importantly, as we approach our busy tourist season, remember this event will be long gone soon and it will be business as usual in wonderful Gig Harbor. Before long, we will be well into summer and the championship will be a memory. This event will provide benefit to our region in many ways; increased revenue and sales tax plus international exposure for the great Pacific Northwest. Let’s welcome this new experience and the visitors that come with it — after all, it may look to return in the future and we will have this hosting stuff down pat!

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