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Seattle to Restart Downtown Tourism With $5 Million Funds Enhance

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Skift Take

Seattle is one other main U.S. metropolis making an attempt to save lots of its downtown with tourism.

Seattle will obtain $5 million in funding subsequent yr to usher in extra conventions to spice up downtown tourism.

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“We’re centered on extra aggressive advertising and the place we actually wanted that bump was on the conference gross sales aspect,” mentioned Go to Seattle CEO and President Tammy Blount-Canavan.

On October 4, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell signed laws that changed the resort evaluation charge, which matches towards Go to Seattle’s advertising. Beginning in January, friends can pay 2.3% of the room price, as an alternative of a flat $4. That can elevate Go to Seattle’s present $18 million in resort evaluation funds by about $5 million subsequent yr. Go to Seattle’s funds will complete $40 million subsequent yr.

This isn’t the primary time Go to Seattle has gotten a funding enhance. In March final yr, the mayor signed laws that raised the speed from $2 to $4.

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A giant focus of the brand new legislation would be the Seattle Conference Heart’s $2 billion Summit constructing, which opened in February. The Summit is predicted to deliver a further $260 million in customer spending.

The advertising money comes as Seattle offers with a gradual post-pandemic restoration. Downtown resort occupancy final yr stood at 65%, down from 80% in 2019. A giant motive is the sluggish return of enterprise journey and the town’s high abroad market, China, is “not even near recovering to 2019 ranges,” mentioned Blount-Canavan.

Seattle Tourism’s Affect on the Native Economic system

Tourism contributes $8 billion in spending to Seattle. The town additionally desires to handle crime and public security, and assist retail companies. 

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“When there are convention-goers, the streets are activated,” mentioned Blount-Canavan. “There’s much more vibrancy that helps all the small companies which are a part of downtown, the eating places, the shops, the outlets, the transit, the sightseeing, the sights, all the above.” 

Like Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and different main cities, Seattle is contending with giant numbers of vacant places of work and the lack of commuter spending and foot site visitors. Emptiness within the metropolis’s downtown stood at 24% in third quarter, in accordance with Cushman & Wakfield. Seattle’s main downtown employers like Amazon, Nordstrom and Costco have struggled to deliver workers again into the workplace or have scaled again their workforces, mentioned Blount-Canavan.

Seattle isn’t the one metropolis investing in tourism to save lots of its downtown. In December, Washington D.C.’s metropolis council raised its resort tax to inject over $18 million into Vacation spot DC’s funds partly to fill the spending gaps left by federal workers opting to work hybrid or distant. The funds are going towards Vacation spot DC’s upcoming $20 million world advertising marketing campaign.

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Within the years forward, extra cities must lean on their journey business to stay economically viable as a result of hybrid and distant work isn’t going anyplace, mentioned U.S. Journey Affiliation CEO and President Geoff Freeman on the Skift World Discussion board in September.

“Getting the traveler into these markets is extra necessary in ’24 and ’25 and past than it ever was earlier than,” he mentioned.

This story has been up to date to right the resort evaluation price and the quantity of Go to Seattle’s complete funds. 

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