|By Katherine Tam, The Olympian, Olympia, Wash.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 28, 2005 - The visitors bureau has backed off a proposal that would remove "Olympia" from its name after officials in the capital city threatened to pull funding.
The bureau won't change its name to Capital Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau as it first proposed, said Tamara Garcia, executive director. Instead, it will consider renaming itself Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau.
The new proposal is getting a warmer response from Olympia.
Last month, when Garcia approached the City Council with the "Capital Cities" idea, a council member warned that he would vote to pull funding, and another said it could "destroy" the group's relationship with the city.
Olympia is the state's only capital city and already is a powerful marketing tool that distinguishes this area from others, officials said.
They said they do not oppose the group changing its name but were opposed to the "Capital Cities" idea.
"We're buying the promotion of Olympia for $90,000," Councilman Curt Pavola said Wednesday. "That's money that comes from Olympia's businesses with the intent of putting it back into the community. If the organization dilutes the message for tourism, that doesn't serve Olympia's needs."
Olympia supplies the single largest chunk of the visitor bureau's funding at $90,000 a year. That's about 40 percent of its proposed 2006 budget. Lacey is expected to provide $40,000 and Tumwater $25,000.
Pavola heads the committee that recommends to the Olympia City Council how it should spend about $400,000 in annual lodging tax money. Lodging tax is what visitors pay when they stay at hotels and motels, and state law allows cities to use that revenue for tourism.
Tourists typically turn to visitor bureaus to learn about a community's attractions. Locally, the group wants to improve its marketing through a more inclusive campaign about South Sound's assets, Garcia said. A name change is part of that effort.
In Lacey, Mayor Virgil Clarkson supports the new name. Officials in Olympia should remember that their city is part of a larger community, he added.
"We're not just selling Olympia. We're not just selling the capital," Clarkson said. "We're selling the whole community."
The bureau's name is Olympia-Thurston Visitor and Convention Bureau. Its 14-member board will vote Nov. 16 on changing its title to Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau, Garcia said.
Olympia council members are scheduled to consider the group's funding request in early December. Pavola plans to recommend that the council approve the contract, as long as the bureau doesn't change its name during the year, so the city knows what it's getting for its money.
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