KENNEWICK, Wash. -- With its growing wine industry and increased development on the Columbia, more and more people are making the Tri-Cities their tourist destination.
Tri-Cities and Convention Bureau President Kris Watkins says that people usually come to the Tri-Cities for the three W's: the Water, the Weather, and the Wine.
There are now 150 wineries within an hour's drive of the Tri-Cities. And, Watkins says, that industry is one of the main reasons tourists keep coming to the area.
Tourism generated 316 million dollars in 2007, up 16% from last year. But Watkins says, while people may come to the Tri-Cities for the wine, they end up helping our economy in many different ways.
She says, "Somebody may come in and experience the wine region but, while they are here they are staying in a hotel, going to a restaurant, going to a museum, gassing their cars. Their doing a multitude of things."
Watkins says that tourism in the Tri-Cities also represents $24 million in sales taxes, which go to projects like building roads and schools.
Watkins say she hopes that in 2008, Tri-Cities tourism continues to grow.