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How to turn our weather into a tourism asset

Cool in the summer? Mild the year around? Folks, we can make this sound pretty good to most of the country. Probably without trying very hard.

The locals will know you're a tourist.

The locals will know you're a tourist. Chuck Taylor

While most of the nation is experiencing record temperatures with no end in sight, we are “enjoying” another cool summer. In fact, it’s almost time to dig out those green tomato recipes.

Seattleites are characteristically very apologetic about our summer weather, which typically is cloudy and cool except for those occasional brief periods that trigger a search for the sunglasses and a run to the store for sunscreen.

Although the state’s website for tourism promotion touts Seattle summers as among the best in the country and rain free, its 152-page online Official 2011 State Travel Planner barely mentions weather, except to say that hikers can experience warm fall days in the Pasaytan wilderness and that the Yakima Valley is “blessed” with excellent weather.

That leads to the following thought about turning our exceptional weather into a financial advantage: We should stop being so low-keyed and tout our cool summers and mild year-round weather.

Much handwringing has occurred over the budget balancing cuts the legislature made in tourism promotion and the potential loss of tourist dollars, cuts that also could lead to a loss of government revenue. It’s estimated that the tourism industry annually generates $1 billion in state and local taxes.

However, the demise of the State Tourism Office might just be a blessing in disguise. It might stimulate some fresh thinking about how we can “sell” our state and attract visitors (who will spend a lot of money and then go home).

So here’s the deal: Let’s pitch our year-around weather advantages. We shouldn’t rub salt in the sunburns of others but simply point out the consistency of our comfortable weather patterns.

We should let folks know they can come to Washington at any time for a respite from the heat and weather-related extreme events that never seem to quit. That we have just the ticket for those looking for a break from plus-100 temperatures, humidity, droughts, wild fires, floods, tornadoes, tropical storms, hurricanes, blizzards, and deep freezes.  All of which some experts predict is the new normal. Not exactly Sochi on the Black Sea but close.

The soft sell should be online. The pitch shouldn’t be too serious. A little whimsy is in order so that we stand out from the competition – especially our friends in Portland and San Francisco.

Our tourism website should feature a state weather forecast, and give average temperature,rainfall, and humidity comparisons with other U.S. locations. Appropriate videos and photos are in order — such as the heavy equipment trying to clear the road to Mount Baker in July. These would attract visitors who literally want to chill out.

We should let folks know that our usual top weather story is when a TV reporter actually finds rain and the drops blur the camera lens. And that the August fog usually burns off by noon, but do bring your jacket for morning excursions. And let’s be upfront when the weather gods do screw up and a tourist bus skids on an icy hill and just about goes into the abyss. Appropriately blame the politicians. People do appreciate truth and transparency. And we should explain that we do have therapists and councilors standing by in case tourists choose to make an extended stay.

People, especially boomers, are used to hearing about side effects. They watch the evening TV news and know that the latest drug for COPD can in some cases kill you. So online disclaimers may be in order, such as: “Folks, come to Seattle but beware of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Prolonged light deprivation can cause depression.” And we should let them know that there are numerous tanning salons for treatment of another form of sun deprivation, pale skin. And since the sun usually shines more often east of the Cascades, that a short drive would allow a warm respite from the cooler west side.

And why not use social media to spread the word on the cheap. One can think of great tweets such as: “It’s partly cloudy this July day here in Seattle WA, but should break into the 70s come afternoon. What’s the temp where you are? #nohumidity”


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Aug 17, 12:08 p.m. Inappropriate

If the author still prefers the Democratic Party, he should not be thinking of ways to lure people here. Immigration into the region has been identified as the number one threat to PNW salmon and their habitats.

BlueLight

Posted Wed, Aug 17, 5:35 p.m. Inappropriate

Not sure if BlueLight was serious, but its a pretty good bet that "immigration" into our region isn't the "number one" threat to PNW salmon. How about this: a relatively constant resource, pressured by an increasing number of fishermen...further constrained by regional native allottments.

Still, as a lifelong resident of the PNW (with many years living in most other regions of the Continental US... and elsewhere on the planet), I'd rather keep secret our mild, near-perfect year-round weather. Keeps the population and property values lower than they would otherwise be. Shhh...

aasheal

Posted Thu, Aug 18, 7:51 a.m. Inappropriate

I am serious, aasheal, as are the researchers at Oregon State University who reported it.

Ever hear that old saying, "you can't have your cake and eat it, too"?

Every person moving into the region takes a bite of our cake (we all - irrespective of national origin or political affiliation!) eats, drinks, uses electricity, requires housing, utilizes some means of transportation, produces garbage, produces wastewater... get the picture?). Together these bites degrade our natural environment. And, no, cutesy brochures (education!) from the Puget Sound Partnership and myriad other government agencies cannot change the simple fact: we cannot hyave our cake and eat it, too.

So, yes, I am serious. It's our salmon "saving" bureaucracy that isn't.

BlueLight

Posted Thu, Aug 18, 4:44 p.m. Inappropriate

I don't know why the state doesn't just buy a big billboard in several major cities, e.g. New York, Chicago, Atlanta, etc.. All they need to include on the billboard is the current temperature in Seattle. We would get throngs of tourists trying to escape the heat back East. Our moderate summer temperatures are the best kept secret in the country. We should be cashing in and helping our state with tourism dollars.

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