Speakers to talk tourism in Clinton

Tourism is a major economic factor in Washington, especially on South Whidbey where bed-and-breakfasts and specialty shops try to survive on the visitors’ dime more than anywhere else in the area.

The Langley Chamber of Commerce and the Island County Economic Development Council have joined forces to bring two top speakers to those who make a living in the tourism sector.

Marsha Massey, the newly appointed interim state tourism director, and Larry Williams, assistant director of the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development are coming to Clinton this Wednesday.

They’ll speak from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Whidbey Institute at 6449 Old Pietila Road in Clinton.

Massay will talk about Gov. Christine Gregoire’s plan to support the local tourism industry, said Nancy Rowan, executive director of the Langley Chamber of Commerce.

Tourism is a major sector of Washington’s economy and, as such, is an important part of the governor’s plans for the future of the state.

Gregoire recently announced a number of measures to push the tourism industry in Washington and said last week that she wants to quadruple the state’s tourism promotion budget.

The governor has proposed $12 million in public and private financing, plus $875,000 on early advertising, aimed at getting visitors to the

2010 Winter Olympic Games in British Columbia to visit Washington.

Sharon Hart, executive director of the ICEDC said the legislature has reinvented the role for the state tourism director and their relationship with the hotel/motel associations.

“We hope that our local small independent entrepreneurs can place their business in the scheme that is developing for the entire state as there are a number of opportunities available for marketing and publicity,” she said.

Wednesday’s talk will be insightful, organizers said.

“Marsha Massey from Washington State Department of Tourism has many years of experience in the travel and tourism industries prior to her appointment as the interim state tourism director,” Rowan said.

“She has information on state tourism programs to share with us and we can introduce her to the unique lodging situations we deal with on the south end of the island,” Rowan added.

Williams will answer questions about state assistance on business efforts and he will also discuss Washington’s economy.

“Larry is placing an emphasis on our business export products, such as those made by our south island’s largest employer, Nichols Brothers, in international marketplace discussions and trade missions with the governor,” Hart explained.

Rowan agreed.

“While a great deal of discussion has been taking place on the future of our South Whidbey economy and local sustainability, the bigger statewide perspective can also be an important component,” Rowan said. “Williams will shed light on plans to support local businesses owners from the state level.”

Cost of the luncheon is $20 per person. Please RSVP to


The luncheon is a “chef’s choice” and executive chef Kristian Bentsen will choose from his personal favorites.

“Whidbey Institute is a wonderful resource to both local residents and tourists,” Rowan said. “We are happy to have this beautiful island setting as our venue and to introduce their new catering services.”

Michaela Marx Wheatley can be reached at 221-5300 or

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