Our tourist advertising budget: A pack of gum and one can of spray paint.
  • Our tourism budget only beats out Spokane, Lil' Seattle, and the polygamists.
The finest suits in the city gathered at the Pacific Science Center today to support a city initiative that would impose a flat $2 surcharge on select hotel rooms and raise an estimated $5 to $6 million over the next year to fund tourism advertising, which Seattle desperately needs, according to this graph (click to enlarge). The red indicates cities that already fund tourism advertising via Tourism Improvement Districts (TIDs).

This tourism proposal is not the clubfoot ballet that was "Say WA?" (shudder), "MetroNatural" (They're still using it!), or even "West Edge: There's Nothing Dull About It." (What the fuck, seriously????)

It's a good plan to promote tourism at a time when the city and state can't afford to (the state recently closed its tourism office and the city has drastically cut its contributions to Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau—from $300,000 in 2007 to $50,000 in 2011. Funding for the SCVB is expected to be cut entirely from the city budget next year).

"More than nine million travelers stayed in this county of two million people last year," said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who supports the proposed initiative, along with Mayor Mike McGinn, city council members Tim Burgess and Jean Godden, hoteliers, and everyone else and their metronaturally-groomed dog. "They generated $5.5 billion in new spending while they were here." (The tourists, not the dogs.)

The $2 per room, per night, fee would apply to 53 hotels in downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union, the International District, Pioneer Square, and Capitol Hill. (Hotels with less than 60 rooms would be exempt.) Seventy-seven percent of the affected hotels already support the proposal.

"We have so many great things to promote in Seattle in 2012," said Tom Norwalk, president of the SCVB. Things like "King Tut, the 50th Anniversary of the World’s Fair. We have Avatar, Nirvana, Chihuly at the Needle, there are plenty of reasons we need to aggressively bringing people to Seattle."

Agreed, Tom. And most of those reasons don't even live at the Seattle Center.

Just for kicks, here's another graph showing how Washington's tourism budget stacked up to other states last year:

Spanked by Idaho, even.
  • Spanked by Idaho, even.

The Seattle City Council will host a public hearing on the initiative on August 8 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers. "We hope to have this in place by the beginning of November," Burgess says.