Today the Senate adopted a resolution sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, honoring Kris Watkins, who is retiring as president and chief executive officer of Visit TRI-CITIES after 24 years.
“Kris has done terrific things for the Tri-Cities, and I’m just so excited that we have such great people working every day to build that sense of community in our district,” said Brown.
Beyond her tireless marketing of the Tri-Cities communities, Watkins’ distinguished career includes helping to found the Washington State Tourism Commission and serving on the Washington Tourism Alliance Board of Directors. She also worked with the Tourism Promotion Program with the Port of Seattle, the Washington State Destination Marketing Organizations Association, and the Ag Forestry Leadership Program.
She has helped establish such community gathering places as the Three Rivers Convention Center, the TRAC Center, and the 23-mile paved Rivershore trail. Under her leadership, Visit TRI-CITIES has boosted the local economy through visitor spending and tourism-related jobs.
Brown noted Watkins has not only earned the respect of her peers over her 20-plus years in the Tri-Cities, but has earned various community and professional awards, including the sought-after 2009 Governor Smart Communities Award.
“Kris and the Visit TRI-CITIES staff are the first interaction many people have coming into Tri-Cities. We couldn’t ask for a better representation of our community,” said Brown, a former member of the Kennewick City Council who also served as the city’s mayor pro tempore.
Senate Resolution 8688 also highlights how the self-proclaimed “city girl turned Franklin County farm wife” learned the importance of tourism while working as a project manager for the Canyon Lakes community in Kennewick, and was a key advocate for the 2003 state law that allows for the creation of tourism promotion areas, which has generated millions of dollars for communities across Washington.
Watkins, her family, and several Visit TRI-CITIES employees were in Olympia today for Annual Tri-Cities Day at the Capitol, when members of the Tri-Cities community travel to Olympia to discuss local issues with state officials.
Link to the full resolution: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Resolutions/8688-Kris%20Watkins.pdf
High resolution photos attached, courtesy of the Washington State Legislature.