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What’s New in Washington State for 2023

From airport and cruise news to exciting sports and outdoor recreation happenings, discover what’s new in Washington State for 2023.

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Air and Sea News

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) Doubles Passenger Arrival Capacity

As of March 2022, overseas visitors to Seattle arrive at SEA’s $1 billion state-of-the-art International Arrivals Facility. The facility allows SEA to double passenger processing to 2,600 per hour with new technology expediting passport checks and almost twice the baggage capacity. The facility features a 450,000-square-foot grand hall for baggage claim and customs processing. A dramatic 85-foot-high aerial walkway with views of Mount Rainier connects passengers from arrival gates directly to the new grand arrivals hall. Learn more:

Port of Seattle

The Port of Seattle, City and Borough of Juneau, Port of Vancouver, global cruise leaders, and experts in decarbonization have announced an exploratory mission to determine the feasibility of a cruise-led green corridor to accelerate the deployment of zero greenhouse gas emission ships and operations between Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington state. Please see the press release for more details and list of cruise partners.

SEA Welcomes New International and Domestic Air Service

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has welcomed several new international air services, including:

Southwest Airlines Announces New Destinations from Bellingham International Airport

Starting April 2023 and continuing seasonally, travelers will be able to fly direct from Bellingham International Airport (BLI) to Denver International Airport. The non-stop, Saturday only flight comes after strong demand for eastbound flights and travelers looking to avoid the heavy crowds of the Seattle/Tacoma and Vancouver airports. BLI now offers direct flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Palm Springs, Phoenix (Mesa), San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma and Denver on three major airlines.

Pasco Airport Receives Grant, Looks to Add Direct Flight to Texas

In 2022, Port of Pasco received $750,000 in grand funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration as part of push to help 25 communities develop solutions to local air service needs. The grant will fund efforts to add a direct flight from the Tri-Cities Airport to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport, one of the top 10 most popular destinations for Tri-Cities residents.

Spokane International Airport (GEG) Expands, Welcomes New Nonstop Flights

Since 2019, Spokane International Airport has welcomed both Avelo Airlines and Sun Country Airlines. Travelers are now able fly direct from GEG to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and Hollywood Burbank Airport in Southern California. These additions are part of a long-range plan to expand the terminal, called TREX, which includes improvements such as expanded terminals and new security checkpoints.

SEA Announces Major Terminal Improvement Projects

A SEA improvement project spanning C and D concourses began in mid-2022 with completion slated for 2027. The project includes some 145,530-square-feet of dining, retail and other amenities, as well as a 20,000-square-foot Alaska Airlines lounge. The heart of the space will be the Grand Stairs in the C concourse with seating, airfield views, music, art, dining and retail.

A planned $240 million to $500 million multi-phase modernization of SEA’s main terminal will update and re-configure ticketing and security checkpoints and upgrade facility systems to meet new technology and building standards. Spaces will be lightened and opened to enhance flow and the passenger experience, as well as accommodate expected growth in passenger volume. Phase one construction began in Q1 2022 with estimated completion in Q1 2023. Phase two began in Q4 2022 and is estimated to be complete in Q2 2025. Learn more:

Port of Seattle Releases Preliminary Cruise Schedule for 2023

The Port of Seattle released the preliminary schedule for the 2023 season, which can be found here. In 2022, the Port set a cruise passenger volume record while simultaneously working toward world-leading sustainability standards with a new First Mover Commitment for exploring the feasibility of a cruise-led Green Corridor to Alaska. The Port also expanded investments to support small businesses, workforce development, responsible tourism and community-led economic and environmental initiates.

Bellingham / New electric ferry to Lummi Island

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a grant to replace the 60-year-old Whatcom Chief ferry with a new and improved electric-hybrid ferry for Lummi Island. The ferry is expected to fit 15-25 cars and will help lower emissions and help provide a cleaner environment around the island. The ferry is scheduled to be unveiled in 2027. Learn more.

Seattle NorthCountry / Paine Field Passenger Terminal

Located just 15 miles north of Seattle’s city limits, and consistently recognized as one of the world’s top small commercial airports, the Paine Field Passenger Terminal is serviced by Alaska Airlines. From PAE, Alaska Airlines operates 18 peak daily departures to nine western markets including San Francisco, San Diego, Orange County, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Boise, Spokane, Tucson (seasonal), and Palm Springs (seasonal). In addition, Kenmore Air began daily service in summer 2022 from its facility also located at Paine Field to Orcas Island and San Juan Island, aboard the airline’s nine-passenger Cessna Caravan turboprop aircraft. Learn more.

U.S.-Canada Border Crossing Requirements

As of Oct. 1, 2022, all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of ArriveCAN and any testing and quarantine/isolation requirements ended for all travelers entering Canada by land, air or sea. Learn more:

Amtrak, Victoria Clipper Resume Service to Canada

Throughout 2022, both the Victoria Clipper Ferry and Amtrak resumed transportation services to Vancouver B.C. Travel was suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and border crossing requirements prevented Seattle passengers from entering Canada, but as restrictions loosen, both services have reinstated land and sea travel to Vancouver. Find Amtrak’s Cascade route here and information on the Victoria Clipper Ferry here.

Convention, Sports, and Events Facilities

Seattle Convention Center Summit Addition Opened January 2023

Seattle Convention Center’s Summit, open in January 2023, is America’s first high-rise convention center. The addition doubles the Center’s exhibition space, adding 573,770 square feet of event space including 62 meeting rooms, 2478,450 square feet of exhibit space, a 58,000 square foot ballroom, 140,700 square feet of naturally lit lobby space and a 14,000-square-foot Garden Terrace. The new building’s design pays homage to Seattle with The Hillclimb: The Pine Street facade features a suspended stair and escalator system that provides event attendee access from street level to the ballroom level on top. The Summit’s stacked configuration maximizes the efficiency of the urban site, effectively bringing interior and exterior spaces together. It is projected to achieve LEED Gold Certification, having used environmentally friendly design elements throughout construction and operations. The building reflects the Center’s ongoing commitment to the surrounding community with a $93 million benefit to enhance the lives of area residents through affordable housing, public art and transit infrastructure. Learn more at

The Podium Sports Complex in Spokane Continues to Host Large Events

The Podium, Washington’s premiere sports venue, is a 135,00-square-foot multi-use facility home to 200 meters of banked track, 25 volleyball and basketball courts and a 4,237-seat capacity. Since its opening in 2021, it has hosted large sports events, including the 2022 USA Track and Field Indoor Championships, and has welcomed spectators from all over the United States. During the off-season from hosting elite athletes, Podium transforms into a concert venue, continuing to drive business to the Spokane area. Learn more at

Seattle Home to 2023 MLB All Star Game, 2026 FIFA World Cup

In 2023, The Emerald City will welcome baseball lovers from all over the country to T-Mobile Park for the 2023 MLB All Star Game. This marks the third time the Mariners will host the Midsummer Classic, and the big game brings other events to Seattle like the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, All-Star Celebrity Softball and more. Find more information at

Seattle, along with 14 other cities in the U.S., will host the FIFA World Cup at Lumen Field in 2026. The upcoming tournament is the first-ever combined bid to feature three nations, the United States, Mexico and Canada, and Seattle will be home to 60 matches. The tournament is expected to collectively generate more than $5 billion in short-term economic activity and produce 40,000 jobs across 14 cities. Read the full press release here.

United Soccer League Men’s and Women’s Pro Teams Coming To Spokane in 2024

New United Soccer League (USL) owners Ryan and Katie Harnetiaux announce that Spokane will be home to both a men’s and women’s professional soccer team in 2024. It is expected that over 40 matches will be played at home every year in the city’s newly built stadium. Find more information at

Pickleball Named Washington’s Official Sport

Pickleball, invented on Washington’s own Bainbridge Island in 1965, was named the state’s official sport in 2022 by Governor Jay Inslee. In a celebration of its rich history in the state, Pickleball courts have popped up all across the region, including The Pickleball Playground in Spokane, which host hundreds of amateur players.

Outdoor Recreation

New Surf Park Comes to Yakima in Spring 2024

Barreled Surf Park, a groundbreaking attraction in development in Yakima, will provide safe, accessible and non-stop fun to Pacific Northwest residents and beyond. The WaveGarden Cove, a recent technological break-through in artificial wave technology and the park’s most anticipated attraction, will allow surfers of all levels to enjoy a variety of wave options, from a slow rolling ‘Malibu’ to a six-foot barrel. With lessons and classes, an onsite bar and restaurant selling craft beverages from the region and a retail shop for any surf-specific needs, Barreled is fun for the whole family. Guests can stay overnight at the campground, RV Park or in stand-alone cottage to keep the good times rolling. Learn more at

Crystal Mountain Plans Major Ski Destination Re-Development

Crystal Mountain announced a five-year, $100 million redevelopment aimed at offering more space, access and providing an enjoyable ski and snowboarding experience in the Pacific Northwest. The redevelopment will increase life and terrain access, provide new on-mountain lodging and larger gathering spaces.

The first development is the Mountain Commons, a 25,000-square-foot open-concept lodge that provides a central space for eating, drinking and gathering to enjoy the mountains. The first level will act as a central hub for guests to start the day right with a café, retail and restroom area. Moving upward, the second floor provides even more dining options, including a pizzeria and a smokehouse bar and grill, and an outdoor snow beach with firepits and patio dining options. The Mountain Commons is set to open in Fall 2023.

During the 2023 winter season, Cascade Lodge will be reimaged to accommodate every skier and snowboarders needs, including seasonal lockers, dining options, rentals, demos and retail space. Learn more:

Statewide Location-Based App Helps Visitors Explore Trails and Beyond

State of Washington Tourism, in partnership with TREAD and Dharma Maps created a hyper-local trail mapping app. The TREAD Map app is a one-stop resource that provides real-time trail and recreational data, updates and advisories. The app assists recreationists with trip planning and safety, while simultaneously helping land managers monitor and influence traffic flow and recreational gateway communities plan and preserve their visitor services, public health and search-and-rescue resources. The app offers comprehensive, up-to-date recreation maps that include hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails, along with custom layers and up-to-the minute safety alerts. The user interface allows land managers and recreationists to share current conditions, photos, weather information, tips on crowded trailheads with alternate suggestions and more. The app has filters for the winter season, allowing users to receive tailored recommendations based off weather conditions for optimal outdoor adventure. The TREAD Map App can be downloaded for IOS at or Android at

Food and Beverage

Taste Washington Returns for 2023 Season

Taste Washington, the nation’s largest single-region wine and food festival, is back after a three-year hiatus. With a two-day Grand Tasting featuring over 250 wineries alongside dozens of Washington’s most renowned restaurants, guests will taste the best of the Pacific Northwest. With new signature events like Field To Table, which invites festival-goers to experience a four-course meal on Lumen Field, and iconic favorites like the Seminar Series where guests can learn from the top taste makers of Washington, this year’s Taste Washington will be one for the books. Read the full press release here, and learn more at

Washington Wineries Grow, Win Major Awards

Licensed wineries in the State of Washington have grown to 1,050 across 20 American Viticultural Region (AVAs). Washington is the second-largest producer of premium wines in the U.S. (next to California). Top varieties are Cabernet, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot and Syrah, from more than 80 varieties produced. From 2009 to 2019, Washington wines showed well in comparison to wines in other states and countries by percent of 90+ scores from Wine Spectator: France 46%; Washington 45%; Italy 38%; California 36%; Spain 27%. The majority of Washington wineries (90%) make less than 5,000 cases per year. Learn more at

Washington Wine – There’s an App for That

In 2021, The Washington State Wine Commission launched a new interactive mobile app available on all iOS and Android devices. The app allows users to search hundreds of Washington wineries, tasting rooms and vineyards. Travelers will be able to create and share itineraries, see what events are happening in their local area and search for wineries that are pet friendly, have live music, serve food and so much more. Learn more:

Washington Chefs, Restaurants Nominated for 2023 James Beard Awards

12 Washington chefs and restaurants have been named semifinalists for 2023 James Beard Awards. Among the nominees for Best Chefs include:

Other awards and semifinalists include:

Finalists will be announced March 29 and winners will be named on June 5 in Chicago.


Tracy Rabsky / Althea Conyers Achem

Public Relations, GreenRubino for State of Washington Tourism