It's better than nothing and nothing is exactly what the State of Washington has spent on tourism over the last two years as budget cutting led to the closure of the state tourism office and the loss of funding for tourism industry support.  The new Washington State budget throws a million dollars to the state's fourth largest industry through the non-profit group Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA).  Exective Director Louise Stanton-Masten says the state money represents an important step toward building a comprehensive, fully funded tourism program but says, "However, it is only a fraction of what Washington State needs to effectively compete with other states where tourism budgets are ten to 60 times greater than ours. Continued support from our members and stakeholders will be essential as we move forward and acquire resources to fully fund a tourism promotion program."

WTA is made up of people in the tourism industry.The 501C3 organization began work with a budget of some $300,000 when the state tourism office closed and has worked to sustain it by raising incremental funds through membership and corporate sponsorships.

"We extend our thanks to members of the legislature for recognizing the importance of supporting the tourism industry in Washington State," said Stanton-Masten. "Tourism is the fourth largest industry in the state with visitor spending of $16.9 billion, $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue and more than 155,000 tourism jobs with earnings of $4.7 billion."

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