Visit Kitsap Peninsula: Where Adventure Meets Economic Growth!
21 Jul 2023
The Kitsap Peninsula, located just west of Seattle, is a place of unparalleled natural beauty, and with over 350 miles of saltwater shoreline on western Puget Sound and Hood Canal, it is a haven for water sports and outdoor enthusiasts. Its unique marine environments, natural scenic beauty of mountains and sound, migrating marine mammal populations, and friendly and inviting ports and towns steeped in tradition make it a popular tourist destination.
Thanks to the efforts of Visit Kitsap Peninsula (VKP), a dedicated economic development organization, the region has been successfully promoted as a world-class visitor destination. VKP's consistent branding message has proven that what benefits the environment also benefits the economy, making outdoor recreation and water sports a significant contributor to the region's growth and development.
Founded in 1983, Visit Kitsap Peninsula is a non-profit membership-based organization with a mission to create positive economic growth on the Kitsap Peninsula by marketing it as an attractive tourist destination. The organization’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, as the tourism industry generates nearly $40 million in sales tax revenues and supports approximately 8,000 jobs during non-pandemic years. As one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the region and the state of Washington, tourism plays a vital role in the prosperity of Kitsap County.
The Outdoors and the Olympic Outdoor Center
One key player in the growth and development of outdoor parks and recreation in Kitsap is the Olympic Outdoor Center, headed by owner John Kuntz. As the founder of the Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails, Kuntz has raised awareness about Puget Sound's natural beauty. The center has also collaborated with various cities and the county to operate kayak and paddle board boat rental and training services, drawing more people to the parks and encouraging recreational activities. Through their efforts, the Olympic Outdoor Center has made it easier for residents and visitors to access and enjoy the region's stunning waterways and natural landscapes.
John Kuntz, who also serves as the President of Visit Kitsap's Board of Directors, envisions outdoor parks and recreation as a driving force behind the county's economic development. “Kitsap takes pride in being the "Natural Side of Puget Sound," offering diverse outdoor spaces like the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, that attract weekend warriors for mountain biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, and more. These recreational opportunities boost local businesses and contribute to a thriving tourism industry that brings visitors and spending power to the region,” Kuntz stated.
The Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails
Kuntz also stated that Visit Kitsap Peninsula has undertaken various initiatives and partnerships to further promote outdoor parks and recreation. “One noteworthy project was our collaboration with government, business, environmental, and user groups to create the Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails. This trail was recognized as part of the National Water Trails System by the United States Department of Interior, drawing even more attention to the region's water sports offerings,” Kuntz said. “VKP has also been actively supporting and organizing events like the Stottlemeyer 30/60 mountain bike race, among many others, to attract outdoor enthusiasts from near and far,” he added.
Kitsap, Washington: A growing recreational destination
The positive outcomes of VKP's initiatives and partnerships are evident in the growing popularity of Kitsap as a recreational destination. The establishment of the National Water Trails and support for various events have not only increased tourism revenue but have also helped conserve and protect the area's natural resources. Through VKP's efforts, more people are appreciating and respecting the region's stunning landscapes and ecosystems, leading to a sustainable model of economic growth that benefits both the local community and the environment.
Kitsap, Washington, is a shining example of how outdoor recreation and water sports can foster economic growth and development while promoting environmental stewardship. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Visit Kitsap Peninsula and their partnerships with organizations like the Olympic Outdoor Center, the region continues to thrive as a top-notch destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an unrivaled experience of natural beauty and healthy recreation all year round. As more people discover the allure of Kitsap, the economic and environmental benefits will undoubtedly continue to flourish in the years to come.