The Star - News, views and advertising of the Grand Coulee Dam Area

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Tourism efforts frustrated in the coulee

Letter to the Editor


Each year, the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce makes formal requests to our local cities for lodging tax dollars, which we use to promote tourism and offset operational expenses for popular festivals. Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam have been generous with lodging tax dollars, which are generated by overnight camping and hotel/motel stays in their towns.

Both last year and this, similar requests to Electric City have met with increasing resistance. While the city has given us some funding, their requesting process — which should be straightforward — has instead become a moving target that is impossible for us to hit. Changing rules, forms, deadlines, policies, opinions, and interpretations of the state laws have crippled our efforts to promote the community.

This year, the way the city is governed has changed from two meetings a month to one; public comment time is now restricted to 3 minutes with zero dialogue; and repeated requests to meet with anyone but the clerk have been refused by the same. With the current communication model, we feel there is no hope to discuss our needs or resolve concerns with any elected officials.

Last week, the city clerk advised us to contact city council members and the mayor at their home addresses and home telephone numbers, which we have just done with a plea to simply meet with us. Because tourism is such a vital part of our community, this issue directly impacts the entire population. To this end, we have also notified chamber members and asked them to contact city officials.

Throughout the month of August, we got a small taste of what happens to our community when tourists don’t come, as fires and smoke effectively cut off their flow into our area. Motel occupancy, restaurant business, ice cream sales, and other primary tourism venues were down dramatically. But it doesn’t stop there; the ripple effect of having no steady stream of tourists will be far-reaching indeed.

If this issue matters to you, we ask that you contact Electric City officials to discuss the matter and learn how they feel about these developments. We suggest you ask them questions such as these:

• Do you feel like tourism is a necessary part of our community?

• How do you feel the community would change without festivals, carnivals, parades, and events, which feature the area and draw tourists at key points throughout the year?

• Are you aware that there is no longer a state tourism board and that ALL tourism efforts must happen at the local level?

• How much lodging tax money does Electric City currently have in its bank account? How much has this increased since Sunbanks Lake Resort was incorporated into the city in 2009/10?

• Why does Electric City distribute only a small percentage of lodging tax dollars to Chamber, Ridge Riders, and other organizations, which actively promote tourism in our area?

• What kind of return is the city getting on the tourism dollars that are sitting safely in their bank account? How do you think that would compare to the community-wide return that would result if those same dollars were instead used to bring in tourists and circulate new dollars through the community?

Please contact and encourage them to place a higher priority on maintaining a healthy tourism environment in our area.

GCDA Chamber of Commerce

Board of Directors

(Debbie Bigelow,

Kerry Higgins, Scott Hunter, Sheryl Moore, Kevin Portch, Jerry Sands, Debbie Starkey, Wade Taylor, Bob Valen)

You might be interested in:

Reader Comments