@5 Local writing programs--the MFAs, the Hugo Houses, UW extensions, the Antiochs, and the myriad other options for studying creative writing--will have added legitimacy in both their outreach/marketing for new students and funding applications (especially regionally/nationally). That'll help bring new writers (and their tuition dollars) and funders in.
Local writers that make it to larger stages (like Ryan himself, Sherman Alexie, Jess Walter, Maria Semple, Nancy Kress, Nicole Hardy, etc.; there are so many, it's so great!) and get reviews in the press will be able to talk about Seattle and the Northwest as a hotbed of literary creativity and have this specifically to point to. Can the value of this be really measured? Nope. But I don't think it should be discounted; spin is important.
And to speak specifically to your question about "tourists": tourists are people who visit the city who live elsewhere, yes? I don't have any hard data on how international tourists' habits change with UNESCO status (though I bet Dublin, Reykjavik, et al could share them with us), but I can point you to the city's 2012 report on arts & economic prosperit…
. As you'll see on page nine, about 31% of Seattle arts event attendees are non-residents (that is, they reside outside of King County). Non-residents spend an average of 153% more than residents when engaging in cultural activities (particularly with lodging, meals, and transportation).
Between SAL, Hugo House, local bookstore readings, and other events (occasional literary Town Hall productions, indie readings series, and so on), there are, at a minimum, probably 200 days a year that at least one literary event is happening. I'd actually be surprised if that number turned out to be less than 300, but I don't have the time to parse it fully right now.
Obviously, the George Saunders and Gillian Flynns will draw a lot more "tourists" than the Breadlines or Cheap Wine & Poetrys, just because of marketing reach and name recognition. And yes, those tourists might be spending a bit more money at Ring Cycle performances at the Opera or at their annual "A Christmas Carol" viewing at ACT than they will at a SAL reading. But Gillian Flynn's press agent presumably booked her at SAL because Seattle is consistently the most or the second most literate cit…
. We're far away from New York, and not super-close to San Francisco, but we're not a market that can be ignored. There is money and interest here, and now is the time to ratchet it up--for the readers, the writers, and the cultural consumers.
A UNESCO endorsement is a big, floppy feather in our cap that will attract more funding for literary orgs, generate attention through the press, give authors something to add to their query letters and bios, and give us access to other cities--and their knowledge base--who have already joined the club. My god, why would we not invest in this.