Meg Winchester just came on as the new CEO of Visit Spokane — the city's chief tourism promotion entity. But she was jazzed about the Inland Northwest before she even took the job and is bullish about the future of Spokane. She gave us her two cents on why she thinks Spokane is up-and-coming.
Spokane's got a lot of things going for it
When it comes to local attractions for tourists and visitors, Spokane is a bread basket, Winchester says. From the abundance of breweries, wineries, creative new restaurants opening up, to Riverfront Park and Spokane's natural environment and easy access to hiking and snow sports in the winter, there's a ton for people to see and do — even if they don't know about it yet.
"People are really looking for experiential travel. They love to get out into neighborhoods and go somewhere different. That plays very much into what we have," Winchester says. "There's just some amazing restaurants here."
Additionally, people should view the whole region — from Airway Heights to Coeur d'Alene — as a cohesive unit with many combined tourist attractions.
"It's fabulous that we don't just have one area," she says. We've got the Valley and Liberty Lake with their great parks and Airway Heights with the casinos. That just gives us so much more of a robust offering of the region."
Boosting tourism is mainly a matter of storytelling
Winchester says that for people who aren't familiar with Spokane or haven't been here, they either have little to no perception of the city — or a negative one based on misconceptions or a visit to the area several decades ago.
As such, part of what she wants to do as the new CEO of Visit Spokane is craft a "authentic story about all that Spokane has to offer."
Generating more enthusiasm
In addition to promoting regional events and attractions, her organization is also working to bring travel writers to Spokane for a conference in the hopes of generating more national attention and enthusiasm for the Lilac City.
"We'll be working with all of our partners across the region to really show everything we have," Winchester says.