PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Kate Brown’s goal of getting 70% of eligible Oregonians vaccinated is seen as a glimmer of hope for people in the travel industry.
Travel is a huge part of Oregon’s economy. In 2019 alone, travel generated nearly $13 billion — during the pandemic, that figure was cut in half.
The Oregon Tourism Commission and Travel Oregon have awarded a total of $2.4 million in grants to help in economic recovery efforts. Those grants directly support iconic attractions like the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, outdoor trail development, along with retrofitting outdoor events to meet public health standards and helping them get ready for summer.
Industry leaders say this clear goal from the governor is the confidence tourism businesses needed.
“This news is going to be really good for the events and attractions and venues that have been really among the hardest impacted throughout the pandemic,” Travel Oregon’s Jaime Eder explained. “I think that this just gives a more clear path t, planning and to letting these attractions come up with safe reopening methods.”
With travel opportunities bouncing back — that means job opportunities will return too.
Travel Oregon says 26,000 tourism jobs were lost in the state during the pandemic. With so many Oregonians getting vaccinated, the travel industry says the pent-up travel demand will drive economic recovery and recover some of those lost jobs.
Furthermore, Oregon is known for its outdoor adventures — which became very advantageous throughout the pandemic. Whether that was for longtime outdoor enthusiasts or newcomers, people really sought out outdoor excursions to stay active while staying safe.
As the state slowly opens back up, this is something Oregon’s travel industry can really lean into.
Specifically, Travel Oregon pointed out how people looking to explore here still have a lot of space to do so. The organization suggests Southern Oregon, cities along the southern coast and Eastern Oregon.
But before you plan an impromptu vacation, Travel Oregon still suggests doing your research..
“It’s about knowing the guidelines in each place you go,” Eder said. “Some places still are requiring reservations. I think you just really need to be aware of specific guidelines just to have the best trip you can.”
After that 50% drop in the tourism economy during the pandemic, Travel Oregon is remaining cautiously optimistic that Oregonians can reach the governor’s vaccination goal to fully reopen.
“It’s still really important to keep us on the right path by wearing your face covering, practicing good hygiene, giving people space and ultimately I think that vaccines are gonna drive recovery,” Eder said.