Private group wants to promote Wash. tourism

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YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) -- This summer cash-strapped Washington became the only state in the nation to close its tourism office.

Now, a fledging group of tourism boosters are trying to craft a plan to promote Washington state to visitors.

The Yakima Herald-Republic says (http://bit.ly/pI8cpA ) the nonprofit, mostly volunteer-run Washington Tourism Alliance met last week in Yakima to talk ideas.

About 30 representatives of hotels, convention centers and wineries want to promote the state's wineries, backcountry and cities. The group needs cash to move forward. It also wants to boost membership, which currently includes about 115 companies and dozens of individuals.

A Washington state study shows travelers spent $15.2 billion and supporting 143,800 jobs last year.

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Information from: Yakima Herald-Republic, http://www.yakimaherald.com