8i. Presentation

2024 2025 Tourism Marketing Support Program

Item No. 8i supp 
Meeting Date: February 13, 2024

Tourism Marketing Support Program Authorization

          Supporting Tourism Partnerships

Requesting Commission authorization for the Executive Director to
execute contract agreements and implement the 2024-25 Tourism
Marketing Support Program in an amount not to exceed $600,000.


The Port’s Tourism Marketing Grant program was
established in 2016 to
1. Drive out-of-state visitor-spending to the region           RCW 53.08.255
Tourism promotion and tourism-
2. Increase the economic impact of Port facilities such       related facilities authorized
as SEA Airport and cruise terminals
Any port district in this state, acting
• Over the past eight years the Port’s Tourism Marketing         through its commission, has power to
Support Program (TMSP) has helped fund $2,315,428 of      expend moneys and conduct
promotion of resources and facilities
marketing efforts through 178 grants statewide.               in the district or general area by
• Initially the Port invested $100,000 per year into            advertising, publicizing, or otherwise
distributing information to attract
these partnership grants. We increased Port funding      visitors and encourage tourist
to $200,000 in 2018                                     expansion.
• The evaluation criteria were first modified in 2018 to
put emphasis on eco and cultural tourism.

  Grant Details
Regional Breakdown
•   Seattle/King County – 41%
178 grants awarded
•   Western WA – 37%
Maximum $10k (2:1 match)
•   Central WA – 20%
$1,276,114 in actual funds paid
•   Eastern WA – 12%
$1,039,315 in actual match funds
Project Focus
Emphasis on Port priorities has been increased over the
Funded Projects                                         years and the proposed changes for 2024 will provide
Each applicant provides a detailed description that           even greater clarity.
outlines the project’s objectives, how it delivers on
Port goals, and the key metrics which will be                  Focus                    All-Time      2023
submitted as part of the final report. Projects have           DEI                       30%          55%
•   Digital Campaigns/Advertising                                 Eco-tourism               20%           27%
•   Media and Travel Trade Familiarization Tours                Shoulder Season          12%           9%
•   Event Promotion
Cultural Organizations   10%          18%
•   Content Creation
•   Visitor Transportation Enhancement                          Note: Does not total 100%. Some projects encompassed more than one of the
themes, others none.
•   Industry Events

     Program Evaluation
• Over the past eight months the Tourism Department has engaged with
current, former and potential TMSP grant recipients to gather feedback
about their experience with the program.
• In general, TMSP is a very well-received program, but some challenges
were identified, especially from smaller organizations. These obstacles
•  Inflation and increased costs have lessened the impact of received funds
•  Short window to execute marketing plans eliminated shoulder seasons and limited scope of
•  Evaluation scorecard did not clearly reflect Port’s DEI and sustainability priorities
•  Focus on “new” programs created more work and lessened impact of current programs in
need of enhancement
•  Low match contribution levels allowed for admin of projects impacted smaller organizations’
ability to participate
•  Notification of the program and the application window

  Moving Forward – Key Refinements to 2024/25 Program
1.   Converting to a two-year grant program
2.   Increase the maximum award for grants to $20k and
creating a second tier of grants at $10k
•  Second tier grant to provide greater access for
smaller, cultural organizations that may not have the             The main goal of the program
capacity to apply for the first tier grant.                              remains unchanged: To drive
•  Provides additional time and help with applications and           visitor-related spending to the
project scoping                                                 region through the use of Port
3.   Moving and expanding the window of time to execute                          facilities.
projects to encourage visitation during shoulder seasons and
other need periods
4.   Modifying the evaluation process to further emphasize
diversity, equity and inclusion and other Port priorities
5.   Increasing outreach to encourage applications, cultivate
inclusion and provide support throughout

     Two-Tiers of Grants
Tier One – Up to $20k
•  For larger organizations (DMOs, major attractions, chambers of commerce, etc.)
•  2:1 match, Port funds to actual funds
•  Open to all applicants
Tier Two – Up to $10k
•  Designed for smaller, arts, and culturally-focused organizations whose missions
specifically address diversity, equity and inclusion and that may not have the capacity or
resources to participate in the Tier 1 program.
•  2:1 match, Port funds to actual funds
•  Admin/staff time can account for up to 50% of actual match funds.
MAXIMUM TOTAL FOR ALL GRANTS - $600k over 2 years, Increased from $200k
per year to provide greater impact and help overcome increased costs.

    Benefits of a Two-Year Program
• Provides more time to execute projects and measure their impact
• Allows greater emphasis on shoulder season and other need periods, a
key responsible tourism goal
• Allows Port staff more time to provide guidance through informational
webinars and Q&A sessions.
• Increases program accessibility by creating longer application window
• Expands range of projects which can be executed

  Updated Evaluation Process
The updated evaluation scorecard used by the evaluation panel clarifies Port priorities and provides
increased emphasis on responsible tourism.

Current Evaluation Scoring                          Updated Evaluation Scoring
Criteria                              Max. Value               Criteria                             Max. Value
Project Scope                                          50        Overall Impact                                        40
Responsible Tourism/DEI                               25        Shoulder Season Impact                             20
Clear Metrics                                            10         DEI Impact                                              20
Community Collaboration                              5        Environmental                                      20
Project Sustainability                                        5         Total                                                      100
Shoulder Season Impact                                5
To ta l                                                                            100

    Focus on Responsible Travel
The Port's Responsible Travel Handbook will be
linked to the TMSP application process to provide
guidance and inspiration for applicants as they
design their marketing plans.
In an effort to advance conversations around
tourism's impact on the environment, destination
stewardship, and diversity, equity, and inclusion
(DEI), the Port led a collaborative effort with
statewide partners to develop this resource in 2023.
The contents provide practical guidance on how
organizations can help usher in a better version of
the tourism industry that works for all

   New Timeline
February 13, 2024 – Program Authorized by Commission
February 14, 2024 – Application Window Opens
Feb-March 2024 – Three Informational Sessions Held
End of March – Applications Due
April 2024 – Evaluation Panel Meets/Recipients Selected
April-June 2024 – Contracts Executed and Projects Begin
June 2024-Sep. 2025 – Check-ins, Support and Progress Reports
Dec 2025 – Final Deadline for Reports and Payments


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