WALLA WALLA, Washington — Residents of Walla Walla can walk down Main Street and see t-shirts promoting the small city, saying things such, “Walla Walla for wine, Napa for auto parts” …a similar message that Visit Walla Walla Director Ron Williams tries to convey when working to establish Walla Walla as a small destination town.
“I think we are going to expand slowly and incrementally,” said Williams speaking of the future of tourism in the Valley. He hopes they can keep the expansion spread out through the summer and winter months.
Visit Walla Walla is an organization funded by the state of Washington for the purpose of attracting visitors from 50 miles away to worldwide. Because of this, Williams spends a lot of time on the road networking .
“I just spent four days in Portland for a hosted buyer event called Connected Diversity,” says Williams, “Which means that these were organizations that were mostly nonprofits based in the east but who have identified themselves as having an interest in being out west.”
He continues, “We have to sort of tinder-like choose each other in advance so we see their profile they see our profile we select each other and then we get 6 minutes together for me to pitch them on Walla Walla.” Williams says the first two minutes or so are spent answering questions such as: “Where is Walla Walla? How do we get there? Why do you have that name? Why should I care?”
Though people are often skeptical of a town they have never heard of, Williams says that once they see pictures, amenities, and the personalized feel of a small town, and all for a third of the price, people really start to pay attention.