Tag Archives: tourism

Travelocity names Kitsap a top 10 destination for beer tourism

brew2_21667175_ver1-0_640_480Kitsap County ranks among of the best destinations in the country for a “beercation,” according to one major travel website.

Travelocity recently released a beer tourism index to assess what areas of the nation are best suited for beer-centric travel.

The index ranks metro areas based on the number of breweries in the area, the availability of rideshare services, air accessibility and the cost of lodging.

Kitsap County (listed as Bremerton-Silverdale) landed at No. 10 on Travelocity’s list of top beer destinations in the small metro area category:


It’s not a big surprise Kitsap would make this list, considering more than a dozen craft breweries are in business across the county.

Groups like Visit Kitsap Peninsula are already marketing West Sound as a “hops-lover’s heaven.”

More than 500 planes confirmed for Bremerton airport fly-in


Registration numbers are soaring for an aviation convention planned this weekend at Bremerton National Airport.

B0015742479--722623As of Wednesday morning, 523 pilots had confirmed they planned to land at the airport for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Fly-In, which kicks off Friday evening and continues through Saturday.

Nearly 160 participants planned to camp under the wings of their planes.
Total registration for the event had topped 1,700, but closer to 3,000 attendees are expected, according to airport director Fred Salisbury.

“It should be a packed house,” he said.

Weather forecasts should help boost attendance. The National Weather Service predicts sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s this weekend.

The Bremerton event will double the size of the AOPA Fly-In Spokane hosted in 2014, which attracted 1,500 attendees and 240 planes. (A torrential rainstorm the day before festivities began dampened attendance.)B0013904477--374701

Big registration numbers for Bremerton are encouraging to organizers, who believe the event will provide an economic boost to the area.

AOPA Fly-Ins typically generate about $680,000 for the local economy, according to the association. The conventions create business for hotels, transportation companies, food vendors and contractors.

Jack Edwards, manager of Bremerton’s Baymont Inn & Suites, said roughly one-third of his rooms (about 50 units) were booked for the weekend by Fly-In participants. He started receiving reservations from AOPA members as early as April.

“We’re still getting calls from them, but we’re full,” Edwards said.

A plane flies above Mt. Rainier as seen from the window of a Beechcraft Baron piloted by Avian Flight Center's Pat Heseltine on Friday, June 3, 2016. (MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN)

Visitors who waited until this week to book rooms would be hard pressed to vacancies anywhere in Bremerton, he said.

Visit Kitsap Peninsula Executive Director Patty Graf-Hoke said the Port of Bremerton deserved praise for bringing the Fly-In to Kistap.

“The AOPA very prestigious national organization and their West Coast event offers locals new opportunities to introduce hundreds tourists to the region,” Graf-Hoke said in an email. “Guests are filling up hotel rooms which is good for local businesses and the economy.”

The AOPA Fly-In is free and open to the public. Click here to learn more about the event.

You don’t have to be a pilot to enjoy the beauty of the Kitsap peninsula from the air. Click here to see Meegan Reid’s gallery of aerial photos taken earlier this year.

Kitsap hotels doing brisk business this spring

casinoresortopen03_18446453_ver1.0_640_4802015 was a very good year for Kitsap County hoteliers. 2016 is looking even better.

Kitsap posted the largest percentage increase in lodging revenues among major Washington counties this spring, according to a market survey by Smith Travel Reports made available by Visit Kitsap Peninsula.

Revenue was up nearly 30 percent, a change of about $2 million, January through April this year, compared with the first four months of 2015. Demand for lodging (the total number of room sold) was up 18 percent.

casinoresortopen02_18446452_ver1.0_640_480Visit Kitsap Executive Director Patty Graf-Hoke said the jump in revenue was partially driven by hotels raising room rates.

Hotels charged an average daily rate of $93 in April, up from $84 in April 2015.

Federal employees and contractors fill many Kitsap hotel rooms, particularly in the Bremerton area. The federal per-diem for lodging is currently $89.

But Graf-Hoke said hotels have enjoyed a recent influx of tourists, as well as construction workers employed at large developments in the county.

“The hoteliers are having the ability to charge higher room rates because of an increase in leisure travel,” Graf-Hoke said.

Gas prices may finally be creeping up

Just when it seemed gas prices couldn’t get any lower … they didn’t

The price of gasoline has begun to edge up nationally and locally, according to AAA Fuel Gauge, which tracks such things.

The average price for a gallon of regular  in Kitsap was $2.014 per gallon Monday, up just a hair from a week ago when it was $1.995.

Filling up was still cheaper than a year ago, when the average price was $2.788.

Nationally, the average price of gas has been under $2 for most the year, but is now climbing.

AAA noted price swings are typical this time of year as refineries conduct maintenance. The association predicts generous supplies of gasoline and low crude oil cost will keep prices from climbing as high as in previous years.

2013-2016_Avg Gas Prices 2-29-16

At $2.03 per gallon, Washington is one of only four states in the country where the average price of gas is more than $2.

Port launches free Wi-Fi at marinas

Boaters can now surf the web while snug in their slips at the Bremerton and Port Orchard public marinas.

The Port of Bremerton has launched a free Wi-Fi service at both Sinclair Inlet marinas, according to a Monday announcement.

“Studies have shown, and our customers have repeatedly told us that the number one utility they value bar none is connectivity,” port CEO Jim Rothlin said in the announcement. “It’s also the number one frustration they have with marinas as it can so often be weak, slow and unreliable.

The network provides a 125-megabyte-per-second access link shared by both facilities, which can be scaled up to 1 gigabyte-per-second as demand increases.

marina_23283854_ver1.0_640_480The system can accommodate up to 1,000 devices at a time. Service is provided by NW Commnet of Bremerton. 

In an email, Rothlin said the agency spent about $150,000 installing a fiber optic backbone and Wi-Fi system at both marinas.

Hardware chosen for the network had to be especially rugged to survive in the corrosive marine environment.

“I would say the biggest challenges were getting coverage through all parts each marina, dealing with getting coverage within covered moorage, and keeping the connection across the two marinas as the tide goes in and out,” Rothlin said. 

The full announcement, with more technical info, is posted below:  Continue reading

U.S. Open pumped $134M into regional economy

golf1_199469_ver1.The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay was expected to bring a lot of green to the Northwest. 

The weeklong event lived up to expectations, according to an economic impact analysis commissioned by the USGA. 

The study, conducted by Northwest economists, estimated the golf championship gave a $134 million boost to the economies of Pierce, King, Kitsap and Thurston counties.

Local governments spent about $7.6 million on the event, with more than $4 million coming from Pierce County.

The tournament, which ran June 15-21, attracted about 110,000 unique attendees to the Pierce County golf course. More than half came from surrounding counties, while one-third traveled from other states.

Chambers3_17063782_ver1.0_640_480“No other one week event in the history of the Pacific Northwest has had a greater economic impact,” Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said in a new release.

The direct economic benefit to Kitsap County was relatively small, but not insignificant.

The report estimated the county’s hotel/motel sector reaped a $349,000 increase in revenue in June (hoteliers were already having a good year). Many Kitsap golf courses reported an uptick in traffic around the time of the U.S. Open.

Tourism boosters hope a more greater benefit to the county will materialize in the future, as spectators exposed to the region through the U.S. Open return to visit.

Kitsap hotels enjoying spike in demand

PoulsboInn_22326865_ver1.0_640_480Kitsap County’s lodging industry has enjoyed double-digit increases in demand and revenue this year, according to a report from an industry analyst.

Through August, demand for hotel rooms was up 14.3 percent from 2014 while revenue increased by 17.5 percent.

Kitsap posted the highest growth in hotel demand of any county in Washington, according to the report from Smith Travel Research, Inc., and summarized in a Visit Kitsap Peninsula news release.

CasinoResortOpen03_18446453_ver1.0_640_480Visit Kitsap Executive Director Patty Graf-Hoke attributed the spike in hotel demand to marketing efforts aimed at attracting more tourists and reducing the county’s dependence on government-related travel.

“We have positioned ourselves in the sweet spot between the Olympic Peninsula and the bright lights of the city,” Graf-Hoke said in the release.

Regional ad campaigns have highlighted Kitsap’s natural setting and recreational opportunities, including its nationally-designated water trails system.

“We have strengthened our message,” County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said in the release “… I really look at it as us capitalizing on who we are and where we are.”

My compatriot Tim Kelly with Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal recently took a closer look at how hotels are benefiting from the county’s tourist boom. You can read his June story here.

Kitsap Tours seeking new owners

blog.kitsaptoursThe owners of sightseeing company Kitsap Tours have set their sights on retirement.

Founders Jean and Jim Boyle plan to step away after their tour season ends in November. They hope to sell the company before then.

“I’d like to see someone take the business and do a lot more with it, rather than shutting the doors and selling the bus,” Jean said. “There are so many more opportunities.”

Kitsap Tours picks up passengers from the Bainbridge Island ferry and shuttles them to popular West Sound destinations. A video monitor in the bus plays interpretive footage along the way.

The company’s three main tour packages include a visit to Bloedel Reserve, an excursion around Bainbridge Island, and a foray from the island into Poulsbo, Port Gamble and Suquamish.Trips to the Olympic Peninsula and local farms are offered periodically. The business operates four days a week.

Jean sees potential for a new owner to expand Kitsap Tours with more vehicles (it currently has one bus) and a broader offering of tours and shuttle services. She said the company grown steadily since launching in 2010 and drew more than 1,000 tourists to Kitsap last year. It’s well reviewed on sites like TripAdvisor.

The Boyles are looking forward to spending more time in their garden, but they’ll also miss life as tour guides.

“It’s just fun,” Jean said. “It’s a fun business.”

Read our 2010 story on the launch of Kitsap Tours here. For more on the sale of Kitsap Tours, click here.