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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

Category: Tourism industry
May 28, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Washington opens tourist-information call center

Budget cuts decimated Washington’s tourism promotion in recent years. The state’s tourism office was closed in 2011, leaving visitors without one-stop shopping for  information on Washington destinations. Ever since, the Washington Tourism Alliance,  an industry-spurred group, has been trying to revive tourism marketing and lure visitors.  Its latest effort, announced Wednesday, is a new call…

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Comments | More in Tourism industry, Washington state | Topics: Experience WA, Tourism promotion, Washington Tourism Alliance

March 18, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Taking stock, and celebrating, Seattle tourism

Visit Seattle, the city’s marketing organization, held its annual meeting Tuesday and highlighted everything from the Seattle Seahawks to international visitors and the release of a new video celebrating the city. The nonprofit group also released its 2014 annual report, emphasizing the economic importance of vacation and business travel to Seattle and King County. Among the…

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Comments | More in Seattle tourism, Tourism industry | Topics: visit seattle

January 23, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Pardon my rant on hotel parking, wi-fi fees and hidden taxes

BANFF NATIONAL PARK,  Alberta — It seems the Rant and Rave column is one of the most popular features in the Sunday paper. So I’ll clearly label this as a little rant — with some useful information thrown in. My rant is about fancy hotels that can’t be satisfied with charging sky-high nightly rates — they…

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Comments | Topics: Chateau Lake Louise, hotel fees, hotel parking

November 19, 2013 at 12:18 PM

U.S. Open to cram hotels, crowd roads here in 2015

A golfer looks out toward Puget Sound from Chambers Bay Golf Course in Pierce County, site of the 2015 U.S. Open Championship. (photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

A golfer looks out toward Puget Sound from Chambers Bay Golf Course in Pierce County, site of the 2015 U.S. Open Championship. (photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Got a wedding to plan, with tons of relatives from out of town? Your turn to host the company convention in Seattle? You might want to avoid mid-June 2015. Or get your hotel reservations in now.

Yes, it’s a year-and-a-half away, but it’s not too soon for this heads up: The huge sucking sound you hear is the U.S. Open golf tournament booking hotel rooms around Puget Sound.

In case you weren’t paying attention, golf’s biggest game is coming to

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Comments | More in Northwest, Tourism industry, Washington state | Topics: 2015 U.S. Open championship, Chambers Bay Golf Course, Seattle U.S. Open

August 9, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Leavenworth’s video-hip nutcracker hopes to go viral again

Woody Goomsba grimaces as his speedboat comes under fire on the Wenatchee River, in the latest YouTube video promoting Bavarian-themed Leavenworth. (YouTube screen capture)

Beer-stein-toting Woody Goomsba grimaces as his speedboat comes under fire on the Wenatchee River, in the latest YouTube video promoting Bavarian-themed Leavenworth. (YouTube screen capture)

Woody Goomsba, Bavarian-themed Leavenworth’s hip-hop attuned nutcracker mascot, is making another run at video viral-ity.

A new tourism-promotion video from the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce and Wenatchee-based North 40 Productions features the 18-inch-tall Goomsba, delivering an undeniably wooden performance, in a James Bond spoof entitled “Nutcrackers Never Die.” The video went up on YouTube on Thursday.

It starts with a boy and his father wandering Leavenworth’s Waterfront Park and looking through binoculars — as if they’re birdwatchers — in search of the elusive nutcracker. After spying on rock climbers, horseback riders, and a beer garden with lovely frauleins – it is a tourism commercial – they spot Goomsba at the helm of a speeding radio-controlled boat weaving among rafters and paddlers on the Wenatchee River. He’s soon pursued by

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Comments | More in Northwest, Tourism industry | Topics: "Nutcrackers Never Die", Leavenworth, Leavenworth video

July 24, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Wooo-hooo! It’s a day for train buffs on Saturday

Seattle's newly restored King Street Station hosts Amtrak Rail Day on Saturday. (photo by John Lok / The Seattle Times)

Seattle’s elegantly restored King Street Station hosts Amtrak Rail Day on Saturday. (photo by John Lok / The Seattle Times)

If you’re a train spotter, or hey, even a train-station spotter, head for Seattle’s newly restored King Street Station on Saturday for Amtrak Rail Day.

Amtrak’s Exhibit Train will make one of its two stops in the Pacific Northwest this year, powered by a special locomotive that honors American veterans. The Exhibit Train is a rolling museum dedicated to America’s publicly owned railroad, with displays featuring workable train signals, virtual sleeping accommodation tours, railroad trivia, and special looks at locomotives and train horns. In addition, the Exhibit Train features

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Comments | More in Northwest, Tourism industry | Topics: Amtrak, Amtrak Exhibit Train, Amtrak Rail Day

April 2, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Got visitors? Want a getaway? Get a Washington tourism guide

WVG_Cover1D_2013Publish a visitor guide and they will come.  That’s the hope behind the new Washington State Visitors’ Guide which was released Tuesday.

 Produced through the Washington Tourism Alliance (an industry group that stepped up when the state essentially  dumped tourism promotion because of budget woes), the printed guide for 2013 outlines itineraries throughout the state and includes travel tips, maps, and listings of businesses and attractions.

    Get a free copy of the 137-page guide at many visitor centers across the state (including at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle), aboard

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Comments | Topics: visitor guide, Washington state tourism

April 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Puttin’ on the dog: Greyhound buys 220 snazzy new buses

My college daughter and a friend just got back from a spring-break trip to San Francisco, traveling on the déclassé transportation choice of the masses (and starving college students everywhere): Greyhound. The very first leg of the journey, from Seattle to Portland, was on a shiny new bus with comfortable seats and clean restrooms, they said. The rest of the trip: Well, not so much. Those dogs had run a lot of miles.

So it might come as good news that Greyhound on Monday announced its largest bus purchase in more than 20 years, for 220 new buses.

Greyhound's new buses feature a blue-and-chrome exterior. (photo courtesy of Greyhound Lines)

The new buses feature a blue-and-chrome exterior. (photo courtesy of Greyhound Lines)

They’ll feature a new blue and chrome exterior  –  or “livery,” in motor-coach lingo — with interior comfort of the kind I sure don’t remember from cross-country freeway voyages of my teenage days:

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Comments | More in Tourism industry | Topics: bus, Greyhound, intercity bus

March 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM

They like us, sort of: Washington tourism grows slowly

First, the good news.  Washington tourism grew in 2012.  The bad news?  It lagged behind the national increase in tourism.

At the 'Gum Wall" near Seattle's Pike Place Market,  Jean Yang gets a helping hand from Ankur Dhar adding another wad to the offbeat attraction in Post Alley. Both are seniors at University of California in Berkeley visiting with more friends from college who read about the tourist attraction in a guidebook. (Photo by Alan Berner, The Seattle Times.)

At the ‘Gum Wall” near Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Jean Yang gets a helping hand from Ankur Dhar adding another wad to the offbeat attraction in Post Alley. Both are seniors at University of California in Berkeley who read about the tourist attraction in a guidebook. (Photo by Alan Berner, The Seattle Times.)

And tourism matters since it brings lots of money into Seattle and the rest of the state.  Really a lot. Visitors spent about  $16.9 billion in Washington in 2012,  according to the Washington Tourism Alliance which is holding a state tourism summit Tuesday in Olympia.

In 2012, Washington tourism grew by about 2.1 percent from the previous year, with visitors spending about  $ 16.9 billion, according to the WTA.  For U.S. tourism overall there was a 5.2 percent increase.

That difference in the numbers does not make the Washington Tourism Alliance happy. The industry group stepped in to advocate Washington as a  destination after the state closed its tourism office several years ago because of budget woes, essentially abandoning tourism marketing.

“Despite some incremental growth, we worry that tourism in Washington is not keeping pace,” said Louise Stanton-Masten, the WTA executive director, in a statement Tuesday. “It’s critical that we address our competitive disadvantage to Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California – and every other state for that matter – all of which boast dramatically larger tourism marketing budgets and are poised to capture our share of the lucrative tourism market.”

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Comments | More in Tourism industry | Topics: Washington, Washington state tourism, Washington Tourism Alliance