Recipients of Tourism Development Grants Announced
State of Washington Tourism will award a combined $270,000 in grant funding to 25 recipients across all 11 regional destinations
SEATTLE (Oct. 26, 2022) – In a first for the industry, State of Washington Tourism (SWT) has announced the grant recipients of two tourism development programs. A review committee of industry experts evaluated nearly 80 applications and will award a combined $270,000 to 25 recipients across all 11 regions in the state. Grant recipients will utilize these funds to help support a wide range of tourism development projects, including new festivals and other events, downtown beautification, and marketing, as well as economic impact studies and strategic planning.
For example, in the San Juan Islands, Amy Nesler is spearheading a project on visitor accessibility. She is the stewardship and communications manager at the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau, which seeks to make the islands more inclusive, accessible and welcoming. The bureau will partner with Disabled Hikers, a 50l(c)(3) nonprofit that publishes free online trail guides for the disabled community. The collaboration between the organizations will produce an accessible trail guide for the islands of Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan.
“This project will foster safer and more inclusive visitor experiences for the San Juan Islands by providing detailed accessibility information for outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities,” Nesler said. “Users will be able to make informed decisions about their hiking options, which will improve visitor safety and satisfaction throughout the destination.”
Mural restoration and promotion is the focus of another grant recipient, a tourism development project in the heart of the Yakima Valley. After securing funds to refurbish existing murals, the Toppenish Mural Society is ready to boost its online presence through a variety of marketing channels and partnerships.
“Upgrades to the website, QR codes, language translations, high-resolution photographs, social media strategies, benches, as well as bike and walking routes, will help revitalize and sustain cultural heritage tourism in Toppenish,” said Teri Martin, Toppenish Mural Society treasurer. “These murals are hallmarks of the community and showcase our people, history and culture. They also serve as a jumping-off point for visitors to explore local businesses, attractions and events.”
SWT oversees two development grant programs for tourism sustainability and technical assistance. The former is designed to foster safer, more inclusive and sustainable visitor experiences across the state of Washington. Applicants may request up to $30,000 in funds based on project eligibility, which may include capital projects, outdoor recreation, business districts and Main Street associations.
The technical assistance grant subsidizes the cost of industry-specific expertise for tourism related projects. Applicants may request up to $10,000 in funds based on project eligibility, which may include design plans for tourism infrastructure, economic impact studies and consulting services for other tourism-related efforts.
Both programs are highly competitive and require Washington-based tourism stakeholders to complete an application with details on their project’s objectives, longevity and budget. Though not required, applicants are strongly encouraged to match a portion of their grant request with cash or in-kind contributions. They are also encouraged to collaborate with local destination marketing organizations and industry partners on eligible projects.
Grant funds must be expended by Aug. 1, 2023, and grantees are expected to submit an evaluation of their grant projects to SWT by Oct. 1, 2023. The application period for tourism development grants in 2023 is scheduled for late summer.
About State of Washington Tourism
State of Washington Tourism (the recently rebranded Washington Tourism Alliance) is a 50l(c)(6) organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of developing and sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing. SWT procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements the strategic statewide destination marketing plan. Visit the destination website at www.stateofWAtourism.com or the tourism industry site at www.industrv.stateofWAtourism.com.
Tracy Rabsky/Althea Conyers Achem
Public Relations, GreenRubino for State of Washington Tourism