Those involved in the world of tourism, be it of the vacation, convention or sports variety, have always struggled with having a major drop-off once the robust periods begin to slow down. Because when that happens, there is a significant ripple effect that impacts a number of sectors in the community, led by lodging, restaurants and to some extent, basic retail. These periods are often referred to as ‘Shoulder Seasons’. In many areas, April is considered to be one of those, when winter activities are dying down, and those fueled by warm weather have yet to kick in. Due to a number of factors, including favorable weather, the Wenatchee Valley hasn’t been affected by downtimes in the 4th month of the year, particularly on weekends, and sports and recreation are the basic reasons why. Take a look at this year’s schedule. In late March/early April, Mission Ridge plays host to the Western Region Championships, where many top-level skiers from North America and Europe will come here to compete. Some 280 skiers and their entourage will be on hand for 6 days of skiing. The following week, the Triple Crown Baseball Tournament, for ages 9-14, comes to town. Upwards of 130 teams from 4 states will be here, utilizing over 20 baseball diamonds in the area. Most hotel properties have been sold out for months, and many restaurants will be packed for hours on end. Then, the weekend of April 16, the Wenatchee Marathon takes center stage. Last year, the event drew some 1200 participants, with 70% coming from 50+ miles away. And most of them don’t come alone, again putting hotel occupancy at a premium. These three events alone are conservatively estimated to generate an amazing $1.2 million in sports tourism spending. Keep in mind that figure doesn’t include spending by locals. October is also considered by many areas to be part of a ‘Shoulder Season’. Warm-weather activities have wound down, and winter momentum is a month or so away. But again, sporting events override any downturn. This year in early October, the Wenatchee Valley will be hosting the annual Apple Cup Soccer Tournament, with nearly 90+ youth teams from throughout the Pacific Northwest expected. That’s followed October 19th-23rd by the prestigious US Figure Skating Northwest Pacific Regionals returning to Town Toyota Center for the second time in three years. Besides shining a positive light on the Wenatchee Valley, some significant spending occurs from skaters, their accompaniment and fans. In fact, those two October events will generate an estimated $460,000 in sports tourism economic impact. ‘Shoulder Seasons’ in April and October? Not here!
Matt Kearny is coordinator of sports tourism for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at 509-662-2116 or firstname.lastname@example.org