"Officials hope $104,500 will convince to bring money"
June 12, 2008 · Updated 1:15 PM
"Come to Kitsap County. Golf. Kayak. Frolic. Whatever you do, spend your money and stay a while.That's the message people on the east side of Puget Sound will soon see and hear. The Kitsap Peninsula Visitors and Convention Bureau is launching an advertising campaign this spring that's nearly four times larger than last year's.The campaign, and the bureau as a whole, is paid for by county taxpayers. But the $104,500 price tag on advertising pales in comparison to the $160 million tourists brought to the peninsula last year, officials said.This is big business, said Grant Griffin, executive director of the visitors bureau. We want people who live here to know how important tourism is to Kitsap County.Griffin is organizing the multi-media campaign, and in January he went to county and city governments for funding.Each government body is expected to contribute one-quarter of the revenue earned from the 4 percent hotel-motel tax. Poulsbo's bill is $20,000. Port Orchard handed over $18,000. Bremerton is expected to chip in $25,000, and Kitsap County forked over the lion's share-$115,000.Bainbridge Island's fiscal year starts July 1, so after that date, the city will be expected to contribute $10,000, Griffin said.Money from government, membership dues and fund-raisers keep the bureau-and two visitors' centers in the South Kitsap and Hood Canal areas-open. Griffin bragged that the bureau's administration costs have remained constant while the extra hotel-motel tax money is put straight into tourism promotion.The target is people aged 30 to 50 who live in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. People are taking shorter vacations, like three days or a long weekend, Griffin explained. We want to show them somewhere that is close enough to get to, but far enough away that they feel like they've really had a vacation.Part of the mini-vacation idea is to get tourists into hotels and motels, paying taxes on their lodging and thereby replenishing the tourism-promotion fund.This spring's battery of promotional tools includes brochures, advertising in AAA's Journey magazine and ads in Where magazine, which is distributed free at Puget Sound-area hotels. Kitsap County will also hit the airwaves on classical, news and public radio stations aimed at the 30-year-old to 50-something market.In the summer, golf, outdoor adventure and restaurant-hotel packages will be offered as radio station prizes. And Griffin expects to give east-Sounders one more dose of promotion in the fall, taking advantage of what's known as the shoulder season around the summertime tourism boost.A focus group of local elected officials, business owners and chamber of commerce members identified characteristics Kitsap County tourist destinations have in common, so that advertising reflects the whole community.Marinas, waterfront and boardwalk areas will be touted, as well as golf, kayaking, other outdoor recreation, unique shopping and Washington State Ferries-the state's number one tourist attraction, according to Griffin. We're looking to sell the residents of the east side (on Kitsap County's merits) so they'll not only visit, but they'll also bring their friends, family and guests here, Griffin said."