SEATTLE'S MORNING NEWS

Kissing booths, ‘creative wayfinding’ lures tourists back to Seattle

Jan 26, 2024, 4:45 AM | Updated: Jan 31, 2024, 2:45 pm

Image: The Seattle Space Needle remains a popular tourist attraction....

The Seattle Space Needle remains a popular tourist attraction. (Photo: Steven Ryan, Getty Images)

(Photo: Steven Ryan, Getty Images)

Seattle tourism is recovering but not back to pre-pandemic levels, however the folks at Visit Seattle feel good about 2023 and their plans to keep the numbers growing. We were joined Thursday by Senior Vice President of Community Engagement and Public Affairs Michael Woody.

“What we saw in terms of visitation we had over 33 million people that came and visited Seattle during (2022),” Woody said.

That amounted to about $10.2 billion injected into the local economy through tourism. Pre-pandemic, the city would see closer to $12 billion in tourism dollars, so as Woody acknowledged in our interview Thursday there’s a ways to go.

The creatives at Visit Seattle are always looking for ways to entice outsiders to come to the Emerald City — a city known for its rain. Never deterred by that reputation, Visit Seattle in 2022 launched the “Kissing in the Rain” booths and placed them in cities around the nation. It was their effort to show that a little rain shouldn’t stop you from coming to Seattle and, in fact, it can be cozy and romantic.

The booth has made appearances in Los Angeles and Scottsdale, Arizona, and the campaign went on to win four awards at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s Adrian Awards last year.

But what if those love birds from Miami, who came to Seattle to get cozy and take a walk to Pike Place Market, find themselves in the notorious 3rd and Pike/Pine corridor? Woody has an answer for that, too.

“What we end up doing quite often is we have ‘creative wayfinding’ to help visitors navigate,” Woody said gently.

That’s a nice way of saying they have brightly colored and clearly labeled signs to help tourists walk around the not-so-pretty parts of Seattle and make their way to the destinations we’re known for.

Listen to more of our conversation with Michael Woody here.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Kissing booths, ‘creative wayfinding’ lures tourists back to Seattle