PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Portland’s tourism sector was one of several industries rocked by the pandemic, coupled with the city’s rising homelessness and crime. But Travel Portland President and CEO Jeff Miller is optimistic for downtown’s future.
“Portland’s tourism economy is really roaring back. We’ve got aways to go to get our highest benchmark, but things are looking very, very positive,” Miller said. “I’m very bullish on this summer and where we’re going as an industry.”
“We’re really excited about this summer because that’s when Portland shines with those leisure travelers,” he added.
Travel Portland is starting to see summer travel bookings and says travel intent is the highest it’s been in a long time.
As the city’s businesses recover, Miller wants workers to return downtown. “That in and of itself would create a critical mass of excitement we continue to need.”
“We know from our research that once you’ve been downtown recently, you are very positive on Portland. We just need to get more people back into downtown Portland to see it,” Miller said.
Portland is also set to bring in about 12,000 visitors as the city is set to host the National Education Association Convention in 2025. Miller credits Portland’s restaurants, hotels and proximity to the mountains and coast to landing the hosting gig.
“I think they got to town, and they said ‘Portland looks fine. Compared to any other city we go to; Portland looks no worse.’ And when you start looking at the combination of things that their attendees can do in July of 2025 – we’ve got the mountains, we’ve got the coast – and so, those big conventions want to go to a destination where there are also other things to do before and after and Portland has that in spades,” Miller said.
To encourage more leisure tourism, Miller says, “we continue to need to work on graffiti abatement, clean up the streets, those boarded windows down.”
In terms of homelessness, Miller says Portland is no different compared to other cities.
“We as Portlanders are surprised by what we see and what we’ve seen. But we are also hearing very positive news from the mayor and from our elected officials that change is happening, and we actually do see it on the streets too,” Miller said.
“Come downtown, see it, see how exciting it is. Go out to a restaurant, we’ve got Ticket to Dine going on right now. So, there’s lots of good reasons to get you back downtown.”