What is Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority?
Seattle Southside RTA is the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for the cities of SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines. DMOs market "places" for visitor-related economic development, e.g., pleasure, personal, and business visitation, meetings and conventions, group tours, movie productions, and sports events.
The first DMO was organized more than 100 years ago in Detroit; there are now more than 1,200 around the world. RTA was first organized in 1999 by the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce and in 2002 was reconstituted as a multi-city regional program administered by the City of Tukwila operating as a City Department called Seattle Southside Visitor Services (SSVS). However, the Cities and local hospitality industry representatives believed SSVS would benefit from another re-formed organizational structure into a local public development authority with a private sector board of directors to be renamed as the Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority (RTA).
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Is the RTA a part of the Chamber of Commerce?
No, but DMOs in very small towns commonly often begin as a part of the local Chamber. As communities grow, there is usually a "division of effort." Typically, DMOs are "community" organizations, while chambers are private, membership organizations. In Southwest King County, both organizations market Seattle Southside as a "place." The RTA handles visitors, meetings, group tours, movie productions, and sports events. The Chamber assists new residents moving in and relocating or expanding businesses. The Seattle Southside Chamber was instrumental in the original early founding of SSVS and supported the reforming of SSVS into the RTA.
Will the RTA be a government agency?
Prior to becoming a RTA, SSVS was administered by the City of Tukwila from 2002 to 2014 via Interlocal Agreements as a provision for first receiving lodging tax dollars from other Cities to fund a regional tourism marketing program. RTA is now a quasi-public corporation legally separate from the Cities with public oversight but active, private sector participation on the board of directors. All board meetings are open meetings held to the Open Public Meetings Act Chapter 42.30 RCW. The Authority is chartered by the City of SeaTac as part of legislation enabling the region to collect a self-initiated Tourism Promotion Area (TPA) special assessment on room nights via an Inter local Cooperation Agreement as required by the TPA legislation.
How will RTA be funded?
Visitors pay a special 1% room tax when they stay in Seattle Southside hotels, motels, campgrounds or bed and breakfasts, and approximately 50% of this tax is invested in RTA to attract and serve more visitors to the region. These tax revenues provide visitor services and facilities; group sales and tourism promotion through a variety of marketing and communications initiatives. The RTA will continue to contract with the Cities for additional local lodging tax dollars to market the region. Additionally, a $2.00 per room night TPA special assessment will be collected by hoteliers and those funds will be directed to the RTA for management. Occupancy taxes and special assessments are typically the way the visitor sector of the economy provides for destination marketing.