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Monday, December 4, 2023
Dec. 4, 2023

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Vancouver City Council finalizes tourism plan

Committee aims to attract more visitors to Vancouver

By , Columbian staff writer
10 Photos
A Vancouver Fire Department fire boat sprays water under the Grant Street Pier at the Waterfront Vancouver grand opening on Sept. 29, 2018.
A Vancouver Fire Department fire boat sprays water under the Grant Street Pier at the Waterfront Vancouver grand opening on Sept. 29, 2018. (The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

Just in time for the summer swarm of tourists, the city of Vancouver has finalized a 25-page tourism plan designed to attract visitors to the city.

The master destination plan, created by Visit Vancouver WA, the city and a steering committee, intends to guide businesses and organizations to make Vancouver as tourist friendly as possible as the city continues to grow.

“The overall idea with the plan is that Vancouver has changed a lot in the last five, 10 years,” said Erica Lindemann, director of marketing at Visit Vancouver WA. “The whole idea is to get the community on board and grasp what tourism can do for the economy and how we can all stand together to increase or improve the experience in Vancouver for both visitors and residents.”

The steering committee that created the plan used strategic recommendations to narrow the scope of the 10-year guide. The plan focuses on engaging local businesses, enhancing mobility and public access, strengthening Vancouver’s outdoor recreation opportunities, and solidifying Vancouver’s tourism identity.

Lindemann said tourists have started spending more time in Vancouver, the second largest city in the Portland metro area.

“We’re kind of becoming a destination. … We are Washington’s fourth largest city and still growing, and so I think we’re finally getting the recognition that we deserve,” she said.

The numbers support this. In 2021, more than 4.1 million people visited Clark County, generating a daily economic impact of $1.42 million, according to the report.

Tourism bolsters small businesses, restaurants, stores, and perhaps most significantly, hotels. By the end of this year, Clark County will reach more than 3,600 hotel rooms — a 44 percent increase over the past 10 years, the report states.

The plan includes goals with smaller scopes as well, such as improving playgrounds and increasing wheelchair accessible paths.

Though most of Vancouver’s tourists flock to the waterfront and downtown, Lindemann said the plan will benefit the entire city.

“People come because of the waterfront, but then they disseminate to Fort Vancouver and Fourth Plain International District and all these other awesome areas of Vancouver,” she said.

In addition to the plan, Visit Vancouver WA prepared funding projections and recommendations for Vancouver, which receives nearly all of its tourism funding from the city’s lodging tax and tourism promotion area funds.

The nonprofit suggested the city adopt a tourism improvement district, which the city would invest in specifically to attract more tourists.

“(Tourism improvement districts) create a platform for the industry to establish an ‘industry-led’ revenue stream that bolsters a collaborative environment to raise all boats within a community,” the report states. “Based on our research, the implementation of a (tourism improvement district) would be the ideal short-term goal to increase the available funding for Visit Vancouver Washington.”

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Columbian staff writer