Law could help tourism in the Valley
May 30, 2009
By Laura Geggel
Snoqualmie is looking at partnering with other cities to better market to tourists after a recent amendment to state law, which now allows King County cities to create tourism promotion areas.
The governor signed the amendment into law May 11. Before the new legislation, King County cities were barred from creating the tourism promotion areas. Now Snoqualmie hopes to take advantage of the new legislation and create a tourism promotion area, or TPA for short.
TPA’s allow cities to collect hotel room taxes of a few dollars per night to pay for marketing and promotion efforts. Snoqualmie’s TPA is in the preliminary planning stage, and the proposed per room tax rates have not been set.
Snoqualmie works with Outside Seattle to market the Valley as a destination for tourists. The Executive Director of Outside Seattle, Mercer Island Mayor Jim Pearman, was instrumental in getting the Legislature to approve the changes to state law. Snoqualmie has a voting position on Outside Seattle’s board of directors. Funds collected from a Snoqualmie TPA would go toward paying for the cities’ membership in Outside Seattle and supporting their marketing and promotion activities.
However, before Snoqualmie can get its TPA up and running a number of steps have to take place for the proposed TPA to comply with state law.
First, at least two cities in King County will have to be represented in the TPA. Snoqualmie can’t form a TPA on its own, but this may benefit the smaller community by keeping big cities like Bellevue from forming their own TPAs.
Secondly, a hotel or hotels representing 60 percent of lodging rooms in each city must agree to form the TPA.
In Snoqualmie, this means that the Salish with its 91 rooms would be an essential component of the TPA.
An e-mail to the SnoValley Star from Snoqualmie’s community and economic development consultant, Bob Cole, indicated that Issaquah, Rosyln and Cle Elum have expressed interest in joining with Snoqualmie in a TPA. Other cities being served by Outside Seattle that could participate in a TPA are Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue, Fall City and Snoqualmie Pass.
Cole noted in his e-mail that a TPA could happen without a new hotel being built in the Valley, although there has been some discussions about a new hotel at Exit 31 in North Bend, and a hotel at the Snoqualmie Casino. The Salish Lodge at Snoqualmie Falls also has an agreement with Snoqualmie to build a new 255-unit facility.
“None of these are ‘for sure,’ but I believe they would be good for the Valley,” Cole wrote in his e-mail.
Reach reporter Michael Bayless Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 392-6434, ext. 248.