Funny how the things we seem to need the most — those things that seem to complete and make us the happiest, are often the first to be eliminated from our lives. When I briefly studied physical education in college, it came at a time when many states were cutting down on physical education classes, all the while the obesity rates and instances of illnesses due to poor health maintenance were sky-rocketing. This was the first thing that came to my mind recently when I heard that Washington had become the first state in the United States to have no state-funded tourism office. I don’t know the numbers, but I would expect from what I know and have experienced of Washington, that tourism is one of the major industries of the state. We’re not talking about a bland state that doesn’t have anything to offer visitors. I’m even bold enough to put it in the top three (out of the 45 I’ve visited) of the most beautiful states I’ve visited in America. If Washington is the first, then who is next to follow?
My concerns and disappointments of Washington closing their tourism office were quickly quelled when I heard about the subsequent initiative by friend and fellow travel writer Charyn Pfeuffer. What to many may have been disappointment, to Charyn was an opportunity. She has recently launched a campaign called GoWAState.com, which is an initiative to create a new website and interactive travel guide that inspires wanderlust among both locals and travelers to Washington. As Charyn puts it: “Since I’m a think-big-and-make-things-happen kind of gal, I want to seize this opportunity to create a brand new website and modern media platform to connect the best of WA State with its travelers.”
Charyn didn’t ask me to write about this. I’m not even doing it because we’re friends. Heck, I’m not even a Washington local and have only visited once. I’m writing it because I’m excited about this project. From what I can tell, this is the first of its kind. Handpicked, unbiased content by insiders who know Washington best. Not a travel blog. Not a content farm. But more of a comprehensive travel guide. That means no paid content either. Some of the features of the website will include event calendars, city profiles, giveaways and contests, deals, and multimedia.
I’m excited about this project because I think it could set a precedent. At the end of the day, I want to be inspired to travel. I want to read about a city, bar, attraction, or local that only a local expert would know. I don’t want to hear it from a hotel general manager, an intern, or a good Internet user. I’m visual. I want photos and videos, and not just something that’s stock. I think GoWAState.com can be that one-stop resource of wanderlust for Washington locals and visitors.
While I’ve hit some of the highlights, you can find out more by reading this Gadling article or visiting GoWAState.com’s Kickstarter project. Charyn is requesting funding of $50,000, all of which must be raised by October 8th. This money will go to the development of the website and initial support until the website is financially sustainable. If nothing else, you can give at least $20 and receive some swag.