Tourism: Good for the Bay Area’s Economy? You Bet! March 08, 2018

By Janice Langlinais, Executive Director, Coos Bay-North Bend Visitor and Convention Bureau

I’m often asked if tourism really is that big of a deal to a community. After all, most citizens never interact with tourists. And other industries seem to make a much bigger impact because they are so much more visible – especially in the case of logging and commercial fishing here.

My answer is definitely, Yes!

Tourists and travelers visit our communities, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop in our shops, visit our attractions, hike along our rugged coast…and then they go home and tell their friends what a wonderful time they had on Oregon’s Adventure Coast!

Travel Oregon provides us with annual research data which shows just how important these tourists and travelers are to our communities. In 2016, visitors to Coos County spent more than $252 million on hotel stays, food and beverage, shopping, recreation, and fuel, during their time in our communities. That means, while you may not have realized it, you likely sat beside a visitor the last time you ate out, were at the next pump to fill up, or crossed paths with a tourist while strolling downtown.

Even more importantly, visitor spending here supports more than 3,200 jobs. That’s more jobs than Bay Area Hospital and the forestry/wood products industry combined. 

Aside from the direct benefit to our businesses, those visitors who stay overnight in one of our lodging facilities pay a hotel tax on that stay. Technically, this is called a transient lodging tax, however, the term transient can cause quite a bit of confusion. In this instance, transient means a person who is staying or working in a place for only a short time. It may help for us to begin using the term Hotel Occupancy rather than Transient Lodging to avoid confusion or the negative connotation the word transient can invoke.

It should also be noted that Oregon State Law dictates how hotel occupancy tax dollars may be spent. More on that topic in a future post.

The City of Coos Bay collects a 7 percent tax on Hotel Occupancy and estimates these tax collections for fiscal 2018-2019 will exceed $650,000. The Coos Bay-North Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) currently receives 2/7th of this total, or approximately $185,000. Together with 2/7th of the tax collected by the City of North Bend and the Coquille Indian Tribe, the VCB has an annual budget of approximately $325,000 to spend on bringing more tourists and travelers to the area.

It’s a matter of mathematics! The more visitors who stay overnight, the more hotel tax collected, the more funding the VCB receives to attract more visitors who spend more money in our communities.

So, what exactly do we do at the VCB? Our main purpose is to market and promote Coos Bay, North Bend and the attractions found along our coast in Charleston to visitors who will travel from more than 50 miles away.

We conduct a variety of activities to meet this mission. We love this part of Oregon and we know others will love it, too, when they come to visit. So, to entice visitors to our area, we advertise in publications likely to reach tourists who would enjoy the activities, recreation, and attractions we offer. These include major magazines in Oregon, as well as regional publications in our “drive” markets, within a day or less drive. Recently, the VCB has put a lot of our efforts into reaching travelers through digital advertising and social media channels, which cost less but reach more potential travelers. In 2017, our social media channels reached more than 2 million readers, significantly more than print publications reach.

We also reach travelers through trade shows, regional cooperative activities, and tour operators who bring bus-loads of visitors to the area.

In 2018, the VCB is revamping our visitor guide, our website, and other materials we use to reach potential visitors. This is a huge undertaking because as times and sentiments change, so do the methods we must employ to reach our audiences. We began with the redesign of our logo. We are still Oregon’s Adventure Coast, and our new logo reflects our brand in an updated, sleeker way.

A new advertising campaign is underway with gorgeous images of people enjoying our attractions and activities. And we have a new tagline, Where the Soul Meets the Sea, which we feel reflects the general feeling of travelers today who are seeking a true soul connection to the places they visit, where authentic experiences are top of the bucket list.

We look forward to sharing the redesigned materials as they come online.

Consider This:  Coos Bay and North Bend recently hosted the 3A High School Girls & Boys Basketball Tournaments. We estimate this four-day tournament brought more than $500,000 to our economy in what we consider our off-season for tourism.

Oregon’s Adventure Coast, Where the Soul Meets the Sea!