Tourism Continues to Grow in the Tri-Cities. - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tourism Continues to Grow in the Tri-Cities.

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - Even with a nationwide economic downturn, travel experts say tourism continues to build up the local economy in the Tri-Cities.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick for the 39th Annual Tourism Showcase.

Kris Watkins with the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau says tourism in this area is still big business seeing positive growth.

Watkins along with some of the other 600 people at the showcase say the weather, water and wine continue to attract tourists.

The travel and tourism industry generates roughly $347 million dollars annually to Tri-Cities businesses.  But Watkins says apart from the thriving wineries, pro-sports has become one of the leading tourist attractions here.  "You name it, if there is a sport, we are hopefully bringing that particular tournament home to the Tri-Cities region.  So that is big business," said Watkins.

Watkins listed the FLW bass fishing tournament, boat races, golf and the Tri-City Americans as some of the big contributors to the local tourism industry.