Grays Harbor Tourism Logs Record Year of Revenue

Whether you are a long-time Harborite or a new transplant to the region, you likely have a fierce loyalty to and love of our area. The amazing natural beauty, from the wide-open beaches to the mysterious and deep forests, coupled with the rich history of the people and industries make this our home. And, these things also draw more and more people here for their vacation.

Grays Harbor County, from the eastern border with Thurston County to the Pacific Ocean, saw significant increases during 2016 in tourism dollars flooding into the area. Money spent by visitors engaged in tourism related activities can be directly connected to increased economic vitality for the entire community.

Mike Bruner, manager of Grays Harbor Tourism, explains how when more people visit Grays Harbor, everyone wins. “The tourism industry is a huge contributor to our economic vitality. We need to all appreciate, understand and cultivate that in our community.” Not only are tourists spending dollars at local businesses and injecting dollars into the economy through purchases, but they are creating jobs. From gas stations to grocery stores to restaurants and outdoor recreation groups – Grays Harbor residents are often employed by businesses supported by tourism.

Grays Harbor Tourism’s focus is to help attract visitors. Their efforts include supporting event venues like the Grays Harbor Fair and Event Center and Straddleline ORV Park as well as marketing the wide variety of activities and recreation available throughout the area. “Through our marketing efforts, potential visitors from southern British Columbia to northern California and as far east as Idaho and Montana are seeing the real Grays Harbor and all it offers,” Bruner explains. “Grays Harbor is now a destination for a very diverse tourist demographic.”

How does the tourism group support this marketing? Most the revenue for tourism is generated directly from tourists themselves. “A three percent motel/hotel tax is assessed for every visitor that stays within the county (excluding Ocean Shores and Westport who collect their own taxes),” Bruner explains. “Every time someone stays in a lodging option in our area they pay that three percent tax which goes through the state coffers and into the county tourism budget.” The tourism group utilizes this income to both market the area to more tourists as well as create better facilities for big events, drawing visitors to the area. With more people visiting Grays Harbor, what does that mean for all of us?

“In 2008 the county collected $582,929 in 3% HM tax returns,” says Bruner. “In 2015 the county collected $978,778. That is a massive increase and tells us that more and more people are visiting and staying in our area.” For 2016, numbers are estimated to top one million dollars collected.

“The increase from 2008 is close to half a million dollars just generated from that three percent hotel/motel tax,” he continues. “Every $30,000 of additional money generated through this tax represents an additional one million dollars spent on overnight stays. And, that’s just on accommodations.” From 2014 – 2015, the difference in tax collected represented an increase of $1.15 million in overnight stay dollars spent in one year alone.

10th Annual Chocolate on the Beach Festival



10th Annual Chocolate on the Beach Festival

Offers 10 Miles of Chocolate Fun


Family activities from Moclips to Copalis Beach


Elma, WA – Feb. 14, 2017 – The 10th Annual Chocolate on the Beach Festival returns Feb. 24-26, inviting visitors to enjoy “Death by Chocolate.” This year the Festival celebrates 10 years, with lots of chocolate and new events all along North Beach – from Moclips to Copalis Beach.


As an early bird bonus on Feb. 23, visitors can start working on their Chocoholic Awards by voting for their favorite chocolate coffee drink in the Battle of Bean, then check out local eateries competing for best chocolate starters, entrées and desserts, and finish their days trying out decadent drinks in the Chocolate Cocktail Throwdown. The Ocean Crest Resort will be hosting a sold out “Death by Chocolate” murder mystery dinner featuring many of their Chocoholic dishes.


Last year the Pacific Beach Resort and Conference Center added a disaster preparedness and emergency cooking class working with the North Beach CERT team. On Feb. 25 they will end the series with special guests offering a chocolate cook-off using emergency supplies and food items coming from the festival vendors in the Ocean Mist room.


The Ocean Crest Resort is sponsoring the Chocolate Station at the North Beach Community Center with all sorts of chocolate themed classes and demonstrations starting on Friday. This includes two taught by their Culinary Madman, Jess Owen.  This is also the location of the Silent Auction which helps to raise money for the Festival’s three grant programs. Don’t forget to pop over to the restaurant on Saturday from 1-4 p.m. for their famous Wine and Chocolate Food Party.


Seabrook has added many new merchants to their community this past year. Many of them will be holding their own events and specials throughout the festival weekend.


The 10th Annual Chocolate Recipe Contest will be held at the Pacific Beach Community Church, which is located right next door to the elementary school. This contest is open to all ages and even has a professional level.


This event has grown into a huge North Beach community festival, supporting North Beach groups and organizations. Since 2012, over $26,000 has been given in grants and donations. This year the Festival will be raising funds for many local organizations.


Saturday and Sunday admission for the vendor building is $5 for adults, $1 for teens and kids are free. A bracelet gets visitors into the vendor building at the Pacific Beach Elementary School on both days and into all the classes, demonstrations and silent auction. Sunday is Public Safety Day, with all branches of 911, EMS, Law, Fire and active and retired military receiving free admission.


For more information, be sure to check out the website at or join fellow Chocoholics on the Facebook page for updates, sneaky peaks and perks.