Chamber, local businesses begin tourism push

May 12, 2009

By Debbie Berto

The Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce announced plans last week to begin a new era of tourism promotion, including a partnership with Outside Seattle, a Web-based tourism bureau that will encourage Seattle visitors to come east.“Issaquah is such a special place with amazing attractions, restaurants, hotels and recreational opportunities, nestled among our majestic mountains and with easy access to both a major metropolitan area and one of the nation’s most scenic mountain ranges,” Chamber CEO Matthew Bott said. “With this unique mix of features and further collaboration with all our stakeholders, we can continue to help tell the story of what a great community we have here in Issaquah.”

About 50 local business leaders gathered last week for the Issaquah Tourism Roundtable, organized by the chamber. The event featured a panel of local tourism experts, the unveiling of a new Issaquah tourism Web site, and a roundtable discussion among local business owners about how the chamber, city, historic downtown and other tourist destinations can collectively promote Issaquah and its amenities.

“Issaquah has no competition,” said Stefano Gaudiano, owner of Grimaldi’s Coffee House. “It doesn’t need to put on airs. Issaquah is already cool.”

Roundtable participants also heard from regional tourism experts about how a local community remains competitive in attracting visitors and tourism resources. Participants divided into groups and developed ideas about how the chamber, city and other leaders can further collaborate on ways to strategically promote Issaquah.

Some of the branding ideas garnered from participants revolved around making connections, or a theme of Come Walk About Issaquah. Erin Courteau, sales manager from the Salish Lodge, suggested that many visitors are looking for volunteer experiences and Issaquah has many.

Dan Trimble, economic development manager for the city, also provided an update on tourism and economic development trends.

Chamber and local leaders also introduced the Boehm’s Award for Issaquah Tourism Excellence, created to recognize a local business, attraction or organization that demonstrates excellence in the area of tourism promotion. They presented the first Boehm’s Award to Bernard Garbusjuk, owner of Boehm’s Candies.

“It is our hope that this award helps serve as a continual reminder that we must remain competitive in branding and promoting our community to potential visitors, residents and new businesses interested in visiting or relocating to Issaquah,” Bott said.

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