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City of Redmond offers to 'pay' tourists to visit

With the number of people who visit Redmond dwindling, the city is attempting to bring in more business with gift cards.

REDMOND, Wash. — The City of Redmond launched a new promotion offering to “pay” tourists to visit the area for a few days. The program is called “You Stay, We Pay.”

The first 500 people who book a two-night stay or longer at a participating hotel in Redmond will get $100 in community gift certificates called “Geek Out Gold.” The gift certificates can be used like cash at participating restaurants, bakeries, fitness centers, and other local attractions around the city. 

The program was created to support hotels and help boost small businesses in the community. The city usually has a lot of business travelers with Microsoft and Nintendo in the area, but that has not been the case due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Redmond Tourism Manager Peter Klauser said during a typical year hotels run between 70-100% capacity. This last year it has been more like 10% capacity.

The city sees the promotion as a great way to host grandparents who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, a staycation for those who might need a change of scenery, or maybe a chance for people to turn "work from home" into work from a hotel.

The funds for the Geek Out Gold certificates are coming from a 1% hotel tax used to promote tourism. Businesses participating in the promotion will be reimbursed 100% of the face value of the Geek Out Gold currency.

“You know, we certainly hope that things continue to get better as we enter into Phase 3 here and start [seeing] larger capacities indoors,” said Klauser. “But we still have a lot of great outdoor options available.”

Dozens of hotels and local businesses are participating in the promotion. Click here for more information.