ZILLAH, Wash. -- High gas prices and the ongoing pandemic didn't slow down too many travelers to the Yakima Valley this summer. The Yakima Valley Tourism department introduced beer and wine online passports to draw in more people to the area.
"We think it's a success because it's helping to bring people, but also getting our locals to appreciate our local businesses," said the president and CEO, John Cooper.
The online passes are free and give discounts to those who sign up. There are about 15 breweries and almost 30 wineries participating. Sign up and check out the specialized offers here.
"I think everyone loves a good deal, especially the rough times we're going through like you said crazy gas prices that people are seeing and inflation on literally everything," said the Wandering Hop Brewery co-owner, Nate Cooper.
Nate said the passport brought in a lot of people at first but hasn't seen one in the last two weeks. He said everyone wins as long as one brewery gets more business.
"It not a competition, we're all in the same industry and we all want to see each their succeed," said Nate.
John said the Valley relies on tourism to help small businesses, create jobs and keep the Valley a place people want to visit again.
More than 1,000 people signed up for a passport this year, said John. He said about half of them are Yakima Valley locals.
"This is my home, so I want to make it a destination for everybody, not just ourselves," said Nate.
John's tourism report said Yakima County visitors spent more than 340 million dollars in 2021. It said visitor spending saves each Yakima County household 401 dollars in state and local taxes.