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Published on Friday, July 7, 2017

Tourism marketing effort revived in final hours of budget negotiations

The tourism marketing bill 2SSB 5251, sponsored by Senator Dean Takko (D-Longview), regained momentum as legislators raced to pass an operating budget before July 1. SB 5251 relies on an appropriation to get underway.

While SB 5251 has yet to pass the Legislature, the fact that the Legislature appropriated money in the budget is a strong indication the bill is on its way to passage. The 2017-19 operating budget dedicates $500,000 to this new endeavor. SB 5251 creates a tourism marketing authority that would undertake a statewide tourism-marketing plan in an effort to revive Washington’s flagging tourism marketing industry. The bill also establishes a new marketing account within the state treasury.

An early version of the bill redirected some of the general sales taxes collected on rental cars for the marketing authority. Rental car taxes are deposited into the multimodal account, which funds a number of transportation-related projects and programs that cities benefit from, including grants for bicycle and pedestrian projects, safe routes to schools, and support for transit. AWC expressed concern over this transfer and the bill was amended to take the transfer out. AWC is supportive of the current version of the bill.