By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“Developing tourism is a team sport,” said Port Townsend Marketing Director Christina Pivarnik to a crowd of about 40 people.
“The goal is simple — we want people to come visit us, spend some time here, move here, start a business and raise their families here.”
Pivarnik said that tourism, with about $40 million a year, is the second-largest local industry behind the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill and ahead of service industry and maritime trades.
Pivarnik said she thoroughly enjoys the job of representing Port Townsend to the outside.
“I love my job,” she said. “I get to represent all of you and the amazing things that you do to the world beyond this area, and I get to represent the amazing natural wildlife and natural beauty that we all experience on a daily basis.”
Pivarnik said one of the most significant tourism-related boosts Port Townsend received last year was the cementing of its status as one of the 10 coolest small towns in America in a travel magazine poll.
The designation was picked up by other media and will become the basis of a new marketing slogan, she said.
Pivarnik singled out the Peninsula Daily News for its role in generating votes with a series of articles about the contest.
“Several times, the paper would go into town and interview people about why they thought Port Townsend was cool, they’d print it and people would vote,” Pivarnik said. “Every time there was an article, there would be a spike of votes for Port Townsend.”
Pivarnik said the lodging tax revenues have been stable over the past few years while other towns have seen a 20 percent to 25 percent dip in those revenues.
“I think it’s great we’ve maintained this, although we might have the Twilight phenomenon to thank for that,” she said.
While the standard events continue to draw, new ones add to the mix.
“We were really happy with the Steampunk Hootenanny that happened in June, and are looking forward to supporting it for its second year,” she said.
“It was really fun and took that whole Victoriana thing that happens in Port Townsend and set it on its head, although in the very best way.”
While entertainment events are important, Pivarnik said Port Townsend can leverage its strength as a place for business meetings.
Last year, the town hosted a travel conference, and two large meetings — by a fisheries trade group in June and an association of city and county managers in August — are now scheduled.
“We want to show people they can have a great meeting, and it doesn’t all have to be under one roof,” she said,
Pivarnik said Port Townsend specifically and Washington in general are at a disadvantage when compared with neighboring states and Canada as Washington no longer has a tourism marketing budget.
“We have some work to do in order to stay on the map and keep visitors coming here,” she said.
“We need to continue to actively promote Port Townsend, Jefferson County, the Olympic Peninsula and the state of Washington.”
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.