Suburban Seattle towns in bid to attract tourist traffic

SEATAC, WA and TUKWILA, WA: Seattle and Tacoma may have great restaurants, fascinating museums, enticing shopping, and scintillating culture, but that's no reason to stay there.

SEATAC, WA and TUKWILA, WA: Seattle and Tacoma may have great restaurants, fascinating museums, enticing shopping, and scintillating culture, but that's no reason to stay there.

The Seattle Southside Visitor Information Service wants tourists to know that while those cities may be may nice places to visit, they might not want to stay in the city. The tourism organization is launching a yearlong PR campaign to attract travelers to two of the Northwest's hidden jewels - Tukwila and SeaTac, the latter of which is also known as "The Hospitality City."

"This area is the ideal location," said information-service program director Katherine Kertzman, of the smaller towns. "The Pacific Northwest starts here. You can stay here for 20% to 30% less than you can in downtown Seattle.

There's free parking, and easy access to all the places people visit in the Pacific Northwest."

The organization will spend $700,000 this year to promote SeaTac, population 25,500, and Tukwila, population 17,000. Plans for the campaign include the creation of a 40-page vacation planner touting local businesses and culture, as well as a travel website.

The visitor-information service will pitch story ideas to travel writers, from day trips tourists can take to Olympia, to stories about local businesses.

"We are focusing on the leisure weekend market," explained Kertzman.

"We have a strong business base, because we are so close to the airport.

But the leisure traveler is not as aware of what we have to offer. So we are focusing on the 13 Western states, as well as Alaska and Canada."

The organization is focusing heavily on PR because "if travel magazines and travel authors are saying this is a great place, then word of mouth becomes one of the best referrals," said communications director Lisa Pacini.

"We are building on our partnerships of everyone who stands to benefit from this," added Pacini.

"And it's not just about promoting the two cities, but what businesses and groups in the area are doing. We're trying to provide different story components."

The campaign will focus on attractions such as the Museum of Flight, the Des Moines Marina, the Tillicum Village Blake Island Tours, the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train, shopping at Westfield Shoppingtown-Southcenter, the more than 35 restaurants serving the area, and the natural splendor of Seattle Southside.

SeaTac and Tukwila joined forces last year to develop the information-service office. The cities fund the office with a 1% tax on local hotels.

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