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March 09, 2011

Budget cuts threaten to eliminate the Washington State Tourism Office. Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed cutting the department and its $1.8 million annual budget as of June 30. What would that mean to regions such as North Central Washington where tourism generates millions of dollars in sales taxes annually?… Chelan County Port District Executive director, Mark Urdahl shared his thoughts in an interview with Wenatchee Bureau Chief Steve Hair . . Tourism is the state's fourth-largest industry behind aerospace, technology and agriculture. The industry pumped nearly $1 billion in tax revenue statewide last year based on $15 billion in travel spending. But Urdahl questions the State’s commitment to tourism given an annual budget of only 1.8 million dollars. Washington ranks 48th among states in spending on tourism. Meanwhile the Seattle Times reports that some of the State’s travel-industry groups, such as the Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington Lodging Association, are launching initiatives aimed at pumping millions of new dollars into attracting more visitors. The alliance is a consortium of trade and government groups, including the Port of Seattle, Short term, the group will seek $200,00 to $300,000 in state funding to continue some of the state's tourism work, such as maintaining its website, www.experiencewa.com,

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