SEATTLE – State of Washington Tourism (SWT) is seeking applicants for its Rural Tourism Support (RTS) program, which will guide the development of action plans that rural regions can put into place in order to drive economic development and attract visitors for years to come .
The current application period for the RTS program will close on April 20, and the inductee for fall 2022 will be announced on May 11.
“The RTS program is a key pillar of SWT’s destination development plan,” said David Blandford, executive director of SWT. “It will serve as a model for communities across the state to strive for more sustainable tourism growth.”
Applicants must identify tourism as an economic development strategy and intend to work collaboratively with regional partners to promote the rural region as a tourism destination. Destination marketing organizations, businesses, community organizations, and local or tribal governments, or a combination thereof, are all encouraged to apply.
The RTS program, which will implement a community approach to tourism development, will be facilitated by sustainable tourism expert Kristin Dahl, founder of Crosscurrent Collective.
“It is so exciting to think of the possibilities that a project with the scope of the Rural Tourism Support program can bring to northeast Washington,” said Shelly Stevens, director of regional marketing for TEDD.
“The pandemic has changed the way people travel and how they experience a destination. The timing couldn’t be better to collaboratively develop a thoughtful, regionwide tourism plan to help guide stakeholders into the future.”
A committee of local stakeholders will determine key action items, including a 10-year vision for the evolution of the destination and a better understanding of how regional, national, and global travel trends apply locally, with the goal of improving the quality of experience for visitors and residents.
Upon successful completion of the program after 6-8 months, stakeholders will be encouraged to apply for financial assistance from SWT and other benefactors, in order to support priority projects identified in a series of community workshops.
To apply, download the application for the RTS program. For questions regarding the application process or other aspects of the program, contact Matthew Ozuna, SWT’s destination development manager, at email@example.com. He will accept applications via email until 5 pm on April 20.
Please include “Destination Development Application” in the subject line.
The next application cycle for the RTS program will open this fall, with community workshops set for spring 2023.