Published 06/13/2020 at 7:43 PM PDT
By OREGON TRAVEL DAILY STAFF
(Salem, Oregon) – Oregon's tourism and hospitality industries are in a whole new world of hurt these days because of the state’s travel bans and pandemic shutdowns. The state had been on track to see an 11th year of record growth in the tourism business in 2020 when COVID-19 hit early in the year.
While tourism destinations around the state are making their first steps back into accepting visitors, the budget shortfalls are enormous and many key lodging properties, tour operators, guides and outfitters, federally recognized tribes and destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have been in great need. It’s not simply a matter of being able to stay in business for themselves but to provide badly needed jobs at this time.
The Oregon Tourism Commission, dba Travel Oregon, has awarded $800,225 to local Oregon businesses to support job retention and stabilization through a newly created COVID-19 Emergency Response Grant Program. The agency redirected its standard scheduled competitive medium grant cycle and reallocated this funding to help support operational costs for local, small tourism businesses with the goal of maintaining jobs and the ability to keep doors open when travel resumes.
Travel Oregon came to the rescue of some 121 organizations in the region: from the coast to eastern Oregon; north to south and the central parts of the state.
In total, 332 applications were submitted with 121 awarded in 30 Oregon counties. More than 90% of the funds are awarded to businesses in Oregon communities with fewer than 35,000 residents and more than 70% of the funds are dedicated to cover some portion of payroll expenses.
“Our hope is that these grant dollars help keep businesses and organizations from shuttering permanently,” said Todd Davidson, CEO Travel Oregon. “As Oregon gradually positions itself to begin to welcome visitors, it will be these marketing organizations, small lodging properties, guides and outfitters and the like that will be providing and sharing legendary Oregon experiences with them,” “Public health has to remain a priority for our state as we help Oregon communities that rely on tourism to stabilize during this time of transition. Long-term, it is these businesses that will be crucial to the state’s economic recovery.”
Among the tour operators / guides that received money included Crater Lake Zipline LLC in Klamath Falls, Gray Line of Portland and Cog Wild Bicycle Tours in Oakridge.
Hotels / lodgings that received help included Columbia Gorge Vacation Rentals, Rovers RV Park in Waldport, Itty Bitty Inn in North Bend, Newbert’s Le Puy, A Wine Valley Inn, Newberg, Seaside Oceanfront Inn, Painted Hills Vacation Rentals LLC in Mitchell and Mountain Getaway Lodging, Enterprise, Timbers Motel in Eugene, Dufur’s Balch Hotel, Aspen Inn at Fort Klamath, Newport’s Embarcadero Resort Hotel & Marina, and Crater Lake Country Suites in Medford among many others.
Visitor centers that received money include Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs in West Linn, Dallas Area Visitors Center, Heppner Chamber of Commerce, and those in Redmond, Pendleton, Sisters along with plenty along the Oregon coast.
These grant projects will be completed by the end of the year. For more information on Travel Oregon’s grants program visit: industry.traveloregon.com/grants.
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