Interlocal agreement puts Kent on the tourism map.

Seattle, October 4, 2004: The city of Kent has signed a three-year agreement with Seattle Southside Visitor Services (SSVS) for the purpose of marketing its amenities to travelers. Kent’s downtown district, golf course and unique celebrations like Cornucopia Days add to the variety of Seattle Southside. The cities of SeaTac and Tukwila currently make up Seattle Southside. Because of the proximity to both downtown Seattle and Tacoma’s city center, Seattle Southside is an ideal destination for out-of-town guests.

"We’re thrilled to be partnering with Seattle Southside," said Kent’s Economic Development Manager, Nathan Torgelson. "We’re going to make Seattle Southside the premier destination for travelers.”

Kent will contribute $100,000 of its lodging tax dollars per year to Seattle Southside. SeaTac and Tukwila currently contribute $364,000 each. With the added dollars, SSVS will create a business community liaison position to help convert business travelers to leisure travelers. Seventy percent of Kent’s hotel occupancy is the business traveler.

The addition of Kent strengthens Southside’s already healthy list of amenities. Seattle Southside currently features 7,800 hotel rooms, over 40 full-service restaurants, has more than 5 million square feet of retail shopping, the world-famous Museum of Flight, eight-acre Family Fun Center, and is located just minutes from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Kent adds 1,300 hotel rooms, more shopping and dining, community events, and the brand new Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum.

Kent was just named “Sportstown Washington” by Sports Illustrated magazine because of its destination recreation facilities, such as the Kent Valley Ice Center, Riverbend Golf Course – the busiest public 18-hole golf course in the state, and Russell Road Park, which has won the “Outstanding Park Award” by the National Softball Association for the past five years. Phase I of Kent Station, a 470,000 square foot retail, education, entertainment and residential town center project in the heart of downtown Kent, will open late next year with a 14-screen AMC theater and numerous restaurants and retail centered on an outdoor town plaza.

Coupon books filled with savings for area restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues will be available to visitors. Travelers will be encouraged to dine at Seattle Southside restaurants through the use of concierge books placed in hotel lobbies. These publications will feature photos, sample menus and restaurant hours.

"The Southside has traditionally proven attractive to travelers looking for value and convenience," said Katherine Kertzman, Program Director at SSVS. "Hotel room bookings are up 5.9% in Seattle Southside, compared to downtown Seattle at 3.9% and Bellevue at 1.5%. Collaboration with Kent allows us to continue to build sustainable tourism and benefit our visitors.”

Capitalizing on the success of the City of Tukwila’s three-year-old tourism and marketing program, SeaTac and Tukwila joined forces in February 2002 and formed Seattle Southside Visitor Services (SSVS). Funded by the 1% lodging tax collected in both cities, SSVS assists both residents and visitors with their travel plans.