Fueled by visitor spending, travel and tourism is a vital part of the Tri-Cities economy. It is an industry that provides thousands of jobs for Tri-Citians, bolsters revenues for both large and small entrepreneurial businesses, and contributes tax revenues for state and local governments. Tourism is an important element of community development and the strategic marketing and promotion of our region is an integral part of growing our local economy.
In 2009, many communities experienced double-digit declines in overnight visitors, while the Tri-Cities experienced a 4.2 percent growth over the same period. As the nation strives toward economic recovery and the competition for visitor dollars increases, it's important that we remain vigilant to stay abreast of the ever changing trends.
People no longer view vacations as a luxury, but as a necessity to recover from the stresses of everyday life. Given the current economy, people are looking for less extravagant, shorter vacations and getaways. Value added "travel deals" are an emerging trend. The Tri-Cities is well positioned to monopolize on this trend because of its proximity to major metropolitan areas coupled with affordable hotels, abundant sunshine and unique attractions. Our area offers a wealth of experiences. Visitors can sip wine at our wineries, golf, and participate in myriad cultural and recreational activities available throughout our region.
In recent years, corporate America has experienced restricted budgets and reduced travel expenditures. As business travel declines, larger convention destinations, such as Seattle, are aggressively marketing to cost-conscious state and regional conventions that would not have been considered a few years ago. Convention planners are experiencing a "buyer's market" for the first time in decades.
The TCVCB has been proactive to these trends, and we've made adjustments to our marketing strategies, which will allow us to generate future business across many sectors of the industry. Our convention sales team has planned an aggressive schedule of sales trips to Northwest cities to secure lucrative meetings, sports tournaments and convention business and to increase our market share of leisure travelers.
The internet is the most frequently used outlet for vacation planning today. Our website, www.VisitTri-Cities.com, has been redesigned and offers a more attractive look with easier navigation, a comprehensive calendar of community events, an itinerary builder and links to social media. The site features 250 pages intended to increase or extend visitor stays and to support recruiting and relocation efforts of the business community.
The global spotlight continues to shine on the Heart of Washington Wine Country, attracting people worldwide to visit local wineries. To take advantage of this rapidly growing tourism segment, we have significantly invested for the fourth consecutive year in an advertising campaign targeting the Puget Sound region. The campaign features a combination of TV ads, banner advertisements and ad words all highlighting our great golf courses and growing wine region. This year the promotion will take place from February through May.
The recent addition of direct flights to San Francisco has not only added convenience for business travelers, but also has opened up a new market to promote the Tri-Cities as a destination to wine enthusiasts from California. The new direct flights to Phoenix/Mesa offer wide ranging possibilities for increasing tourism spending in the Tri-Cities.
In 2010, we are looking forward to continued success. In April, the Tri-Cities segment of the Confluence Project, featuring the work of famed artist Maya Lin, will be dedicated at Sacajawea State Park. There are several new hotel projects in the works, with at least one new hotel scheduled to open this year. Efforts are being made to include the B Reactor as part of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park. This designation and inclusion as part of the National Park System would increase visitor spending in the Tri-Cities.
Many industries continue to face challenges in 2010, and the TCVCB is mindful of how intertwined the travel industry is with other business sectors. The TCVCB will continue to navigate through the challenges ahead by being aggressive in promoting the region as a premier destination for business, leisure and group travel markets. The community's ongoing support has positioned us well for future success.