STIA enhancements will capitalize on new Summit Seattle Convention Center, increase travel and tourism promotion.
Seattle, WA – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell signed the new Seattle Tourism Improvement Area (STIA) legislation into law following Seattle City Council’s unanimous vote approving the mayor’s proposed amendment on September 19, 2023. The legislation establishes a new 15-year Business Improvement Area (BIA) that will increase travel and tourism promotion for the city and region and create an updated equitable assessment formula.
“Through the Seattle Tourism Improvement Area, we are further strengthening Seattle’s ability to market and promote itself as a world-class city to visitors from all over the world,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “This summer, Seattle put on display our ability to host events of all sizes and welcome visitors from across the region, country, and world. We know tourism is a powerful economic driver, benefiting small and local businesses across the city, and this STIA enhancement means expanded opportunity to bring people to Seattle and make the most of the new Summit Seattle Convention Center. Together, we will continue striving to make Seattle a safe, exciting, welcoming city for residents and visitors alike. I want to thank Councilmember Sara Nelson for her strong leadership guiding it through to unanimous approval.”
The STIA legislation is part of Mayor Harrell’s Downtown Activation Plan, which calls for a well-rounded approach to tourism, reflecting the City’s continued commitment to bring visitors, residents, workers, families, and more Downtown.The new BIA will continue to advance our shared goal to make Downtown a top destination for Seattleites and visitors year-round.
STIA currently consists of 71 hotels in downtown Seattle neighborhoods, including Lower Queen Anne, South Lake Union, Belltown, Pioneer Square, SODO, and portions of Capitol Hill, each with 60 rooms or more. These member hotels charge overnight guests a 2.3% per occupied hotel room rate per night assessment, generating millions in revenue that support STIA programs and services.
By ordinance, the fees collected from an assessment on overnight hotel stays are directed in their entirety to a dedicated business and leisure travel marketing fund administered by Visit Seattle, the City’s official nonprofit tourism marketing organization.
“Conventions are enormously beneficial to downtown small businesses who are still struggling with decreased foot traffic from office workers – and Seattle competes fiercely with other major cities for that business travel,” said Councilmember Sara Nelson, Chair of Economic Development, Technology, and City Light. “The restructured STIA assessment will generate additional revenue for Visit Seattle to promote all of Seattle as a premier business and leisure travel destination, and I sponsored this legislation because it only makes sense to use some of that money to market the Convention Center’s stunning new Summit building to domestic and international meeting and event planners.”
STIA funds are generated from overnight guests of downtown hotels, however, marketing efforts funded by the assessment rates support the entire city – promoting the diverse offerings and experiences available throughout Seattle and the region. Campaigns encourage consumers to explore Seattle through its neighborhoods, natural landmarks, arts and culture scene, culinary offerings, and more.
STIA was established in 2011 to fill a void in leisure tourism marketing and promotion efforts that existed at the state and city level. Tourism impacts metrics in 2022 for the region presented by Visit Seattle show:
- 33.3 million visitors came to Seattle and King County, a 25% increase from 2021
- $7.3 billion was spent in the city and county from visitors, a 35% increase from 2021
- $699 million in state and local taxes were paid by visitors, an increase of 36.4% from 2021
- Tourism-related jobs continued to recover in 2022, with more than 60,825 local jobs, a 5% increase in Seattle and King County
“We celebrate the reimagined STIA that will enable Seattle to better invest in growing our tourism economy on a more competitive level with other major cities. The changes implemented in this legislation set us up for long-term success and help lift all our neighborhoods and businesses year-round,” said Visit Seattle President and CEO Tammy Canavan.
The new BIA will take effect January 1, 2024, bolstering promotional efforts for 2024 and beyond. Top priority for Visit Seattle and the STIA is growing leisure visitation from key domestic source markets. Funding from the STIA assessment will allow Visit Seattle to reach a much larger audience. STIA also supports comprehensive public relations efforts, helping position the destination as a must-visit destination, and expand Visit Seattle’s global footprint, inviting travelers from around the world to visit the Emerald City. As visitor volumes continue to grow, the economic impact of tourism can be easily found across the city.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Councilmember Andrew Lewis
“This legislation will boost our growing tourism economy and promote the cultural treasures of Downtown, including our beloved Pike Place Market, soon to open world class waterfront, and an unparalleled arts and culture district which will soon be bolstered by a reopened Cinerama. This new resource will help us tell Seattle’s story and attract visitors from around the world to take in the natural beauty, creativity, and wonder Seattle has to share.”
Markham McIntyre, Office of Economic Development Director
“We have an incredible economic asset in our newly expanded convention center, and we need to make sure the world knows about it. This legislation will give Visit Seattle more options to market our region and draw visitors from around the globe to experience our great city. I’m excited to see how they can boost tourism as part of our Downtown Activation Plan.”