THE US Pacific Northwest city of Seattle is set to make a greater play at the Australian market to capitalise on this region as an ongoing growth hub.
Aussie travellers are the seventh biggest spenders in Seattle based on credit card transaction data, according to Visit Seattle ceo and president Tom Norwalk, and with multiple tourism infrastructure projects underway the city is expecting to lure even more international travellers.
Speaking to TD while in Sydney yesterday, Norwalk said he and a handful of Seattle tourism delegates were down under this week to promote the destination, with plans afoot for a larger Seattle roadshow in 2018.
Norwalk said Seattle is currently undergoing its biggest revamp in history, including the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct elevated highway that has run along the city’s picturesque waterfront since 1953, in favour of opening up the space to the public.
One of Seattle’s biggest tourist landmarks, Pike Place Market has been expanded with the launch of the MarketFront that features 28,000ft2 of open public space, 50 new stalls for farmers & artists, retail space and a microbrewery, Norwalk (pictured) explained.
Seattle’s outdoor and adventure experiences are some of its major tourism drawcards, along with its busy arts, culture & music scenes.
Down by the water, this year Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Pier 66 cruise terminal – developed with the Port of Seattle – opened, and there’s a possibility Seattle’s cruise ship terminal could move closer to the city centre, he said.
Seattle Aquarium has also been expanded and there are over 3,000 hotel rooms in the pipeline.
The city’s busiest time of year coincides with the Alaska cruise season, running from late Apr to early Sep, with this year a record breaker for Seattle, with over 200 sailings between seven cruise lines.
As a seasonal city in terms of the bulk of int’l travellers, Visit Seattle is keen to boost its appeal in quieter periods, backing events like the Taste Washington Wine Month in Mar that celebrates the state’s wine industry.
Norwalk said non-stop flights to SEA from Australia would go a long way to increase awareness.
In Aug, Qantas chief exec Alan Joyce named Seattle among a list of potential new North America hubs from which it was capable of flying its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft ex Brisbane.