We are here for you! Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism has reformatted our Tourism Talk e-news to provide ongoing information. We have also added  tourism industry  resources  to Bellingham.org for access at anytime. We are here to help all our members navigate these uncertain times. 
Tourism Industry Relief Resources
FEDERAL ASSISTANCE

Cares Act
On March 27 the COVID-19 Cares Act was signed Into law, providing the largest emergency aid package in history. Benefits available to businesses include:
  • Loans and loan forgiveness for small travel businesses
  • Federally backed financial assistance for impacted businesses
  • Tax relief to mitigate losses and spur recovery
  • Grants for impacted tourism businesses and airports
Loans
More guidance on these programs and how to apply is expected from the U.S. Treasury Department and U.S. Small Business Administration in the coming days.
WASHINGTON STATE ASSISTANCE

Grants 
  • Governor's Strategic Reserve Fund: Up to $5 million will be made available as small grants to small businesses across the state to help prevent closure due to COVID-19. The state Department of Commerce will coordinate an application process. More details to come.

Loans
  • Business Impact NW provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions. Additionally, it has compiled an outstanding set of COVID-19 resources.
  • Craft3 provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses, with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions.
  • The Governor has responded swiftly with  expanded benefits programs and a resource list. These include programs such as SharedWork, which provides partial wage replacement to avoid layoffs, and standby, which suspends the job-search requirement for workers to collect unemployment benefits if an employer must make temporary layoffs. You can see a chart of available benefits for various COVID-19 scenarios here.

Additional Info
Whatcom Unified Command

In an effort to further support the public health response to the COVID-19 crisis, all Whatcom County governments have consolidated efforts under a  Whatcom Unified Command,   which has issued the following statement to our community:

Dear Local Businesses and Partners,
 
Under Whatcom Unified Command's direction, the Economic Impact Task Force, led by Don Goldberg, has compiled five tools/resources for local businesses to utilize so that our team and partners can begin to assess the extent of the economic impacts stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
The first is a survey that was developed in partnership with the Whatcom Unified Command, the Regional Economic Partnership at the Port of Bellingham, Western Washington University's Small Business Development Center (WWU SBDC), and the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce. This survey will help our organizations understand the economic effects of COVID-19 on local businesses. If you own or operate a business in Whatcom County, please fill out this survey at your earliest convenience:  https://form.responster.com/EsA58H
 
The second resource we wanted to direct your attention to is technical assistance from WWU's SBDC:  https://sbdc.wwu.edu/business-continuity-resources
 
The third resource allows you to register for business re-entry with Washington State:  https://mil.wa.gov/business-re-entry-registration
 
The fourth resource is designed for companies that may have the capability to make donations or repurpose your facility or manufacturing equipment to produce Personal Protective Equipment and infection-control products, please contact the Department of Enterprise Services to discuss options: https://des.wa.gov/about/agency-overview/covid-19-information-%E2%80%93-des-guidance/personal-protective-equipment
 
Finally, please check Unified Command's new website  https://whatcomcovid.com for regular updates. There you'll find a link to the Economic Impact Task Force's Resource page.
 
Thank you.
 
Sincerely,
Economic Impact Taskforce
Whatcom Unified Command
Washington Tourism Alliance News

The  Washington Tourism Alliance  (WTA) has launched  showWAlove.com , a new online program to help support local Washington businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Data from national tourism research firm Tourism Economics estimates that 4.6 million U.S. travel industry jobs may be lost by May 31 - roughly 40 percent of all tourism-related jobs. That constitutes more than 75,000 jobs in Washington State and means local restaurants, hotels, attractions, tour operators, and destination marketing organizations will bear the brunt of these losses.
U.S. Travel Association
CARES Act Relief Resources

The U.S. Travel Association is maintaining a full toolkit of COVID-19 Cares Act relief resources on its website at  https://www.ustravel.org/toolkit/covid-19-cares-act-relief-resources.
Destinations International
Travel Industry COVID-19 Resource Page

Destinations International is committed to providing accurate, factual and up-to-date information about COVID-19, including an interactive visual of the spread of the disease, provided by the experts at Johns Hopkins University on its website at:
https://destinationsinternational.org/covid-19-coronavirus-travel-industry-resource-page
Local Whatcom County Updates
Travel Advisory and Tourism Industry Resources

Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism is continuing daily updates of our COVID-19 Travel Advisory landing page with information and resources on the spread of COVID-19 as it relates to the travel industry in Whatcom County and Washington State. 

We are also maintaining a Tourism Industry Resources page to provide links to economic resources for our members and key messages from the travel and tourism industry.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to  sandy@bellingham.org  with any questions you may have.

To align with state and local stay home to save lives measures, trailheads, campgrounds, and day-use areas within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will be temporarily closed. These closures are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.The closure order is in effect through September 30 unless rescinded earlier.

Bellingham is committed to keeping our parks and trails open and safe for public use. Beginning March 24, 2020, the City of Bellingham Parks & Recreation staff will close all playgrounds, sport courts, fenced dog areas, bike parks, disc golf courses and the skate park to encourage safe social distancing. 
 
To follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines established by Public Health, the Port is closing  Bellingham's downtown waterfront bike park, the playground at  Zuanich Park, workout stations along the Squalicum Promenade, the picnic shelter at  Marine Park, and Jorgensen Pier in Blaine. Within these active recreation areas, it could be difficult to maintain social distancing guidelines of a minimum of six feet at all times.


North Cascades National Park Service Complex , in response to the Stay Home, Stay Safe Proclamation and Proclamation 20-14 Reduction of Statewide Limits on Gatherings issued by the Governor of the State of Washington, is announcing additional modifications to operations to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).


The health and well-being of passengers and crew is a top priority for the  Alaska Marine Highway System  (AMHS). In response to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we are following federal government guidance to clean and disinfect our ships and terminals. AMHS is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Coast Guard to ensure our methods and materials remain consistent and current for handling new developments related to COVID-19.

It is with great disappointment that Whatcom Events must announce that the 2020  Ski to Sea race is canceled due to the circumstances associated with the Coronavirus.

Due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on travel plans as well as  Bellair Airporter Shuttle's  commitment to the health of our passengers and the communities we serve, all  Bellair Airporter Shuttle  operations will be suspended effective Monday, March 30, 2020. 

Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood announced today he has temporarily suspended enforcement of the City's  plastic bag ban as part of the City's response to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Fleetwood said grocers, grocery workers, and individuals reached out to his office out of concern for the health of shoppers and workers. 
Local Scenes of Inspiration

  As a gift to the community, during Washington State's Stay Home - Stay Safe Order,  Bellingham and Whatcom County  artists, musicians, actors, storytellers, dancers, filmmakers, performers and arts supporters have come together to create the  Whatcom Arts Project.  Free, daily online content is available on  Facebook  and on a  webpage  through this campaign to uplift, educate, and inspire during these difficult times, while we socially distance to slow the spread of COVID-19.




Although  Whatcom County Library System  buildings are closed,  Whatcom County's  community members can still access the library's extensive, free digital resources online. And, beginning Monday, March 23, library staff will answer patron questions daily from 1-5 p.m. via phone, email and online chat.

A library card is required to access digital services, and it's easy to apply for a card online.  Digital content  includes eBooks and eAudiobooks; databases; streaming movies, music, and children's educational programs; newspapers and magazines from around the world, including the Bellingham Herald; Mango interactive language instruction app; and professional training videos via Lynda.com.
 
The  Whatcom Women in Business  are looking for nominations for the 2020 Professional Women of the Year award. We are looking for nominees that are accomplished, mentor others and donate their time and resources to the  Whatcom  community. Nomination forms are online at the  Whatcom Women in Business website.  Nominations are due by May 11, 2020.  Whatcom Women in Business will announce the Professional Woman of the Year at our annual banquet and scholarship fundraiser auction on Friday, October 9 at the Four Points by Sheraton.

  There's always a silver lining to a storm cloud and lucky for  Chuckanut  beer fans, it's coming in the form of bottled Chuckanut Beer! The Corona Virus has made us all more creative with how we get our great beer to those who want it, just not at a favorite restaurant or pub. Instead, it's got to be in the form of beer to go. Chuckanut is now offering its world-famous, award-winning beers in half-liter bottles! 


If your head is still spinning with how fast life has changed since late February, you are not alone. We're all making changes to keep ourselves and others safe from exposure to Covid-19, the coronavirus, and that includes the local artists, musicians, theaters, museums, galleries and filmmakers that rely on public events to share their work. 


Help support local businesses in Bellingham and Whatcom County during this difficult time and get in the know about current store hours and online shopping. We're in this together!



Not sure which restaurants and breweries are open or offering to-go and curbside pickup in Bellingham and Whatcom County? This list of restaurants and businesses provides visitors and locals with everything they need to know to find great food and support our community during the current coronavirus situation. Let's support each other!


Albeit in the mist of the Coronavirus outbreak, the staff at  Hotel Bellwether  is set to receive $42,000 in two monetary contributions from a generous couple within the  Bellingham  community. Their desire to pay it forward comes at a crucial moment in the lives of our staff, as most have reduced to no hours moving into the next few months as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to stifle businesses in our local community.

Although Hotel Bellwether has been approved by the Washington State Unemployment Department's SharedWork program - a program which other employees benefit during their temporary unemployment, many employees are facing challenges with shortfalls in their income. The couple hopes this act of kindness will generate a chain effect from others in the community who can help in any way possible during this time of uncertainty.

Whatcom County Recent Media Stories

Below are recent feature stories about Bellingham and Whatcom County. Click on the titles to view the stories, or see our  full media coverage webpage .

If You Build It, They Will Come
Lacy Kemp / USA Cycling / 
Photo Contest

March & April 2020
Whatcom County is a great place to play! Take some photos enjoying the many activities and scenic spots all around the county and enter them in our latest contest for a chance at a prize! Yes, members can enter. Members can also donate prizes. Enter here

Questions? We are happy to answer them for you.
Give us a call at 360-671-3990,  email us or visit our website at  bellingham.org .
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229