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Tempting Tourists | 425 Business Magazine


Story By: Shawna De La Rosa 

Disneyland. Honolulu. Palm Springs. The Eastside?

OK, the last one might be pushing it a bit. We all know the Eastside is not one of the West's top tourist destinations, but that doesn't mean there aren't hundreds of people hard at work trying to make it one. Among such Eastside promoters, there is a renewed energy to attract travelers and the cash that comes along with them.

Tourism generates big money for the region. King County, for example, brought in $6 billion in visitor expenditures in 2013, according to Visit Seattle, and approximately 20 percent of that was spent on the Eastside.

"Tourism is the front door to economic development," says Sharon Linton, whose career is tightly tied to tourism. Linton is marketing and communication manager for both Visit Bellevue Washington and Bellevue's 54,000-square-foot Meydenbauer Center.

Visit Bellevue launched in 2011 after noted tourism consultant Bill Geist concluded that the city of 130,000 had evolved into an urban destination. Geist's analysis said Bellevue's proximity to Seattle, Woodinville's wineries, Lake Washington, and the Cascades positions it well in the tourism world.

Weekday convention business has long bustled in Bellevue, but weekends traditionally were slow. Hotels had high vacancy; parking was plentiful.

Visit Bellevue's first mission was to draw weekend visitors to the area...

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