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Workshop identifies focus areas to increase tourism
Participants hope to have some tangible results by this summer
February 11, 2013
Local leaders recently completed a series of rural tourism classes and will now put those lessons into action to draw more visitors to the community.
The workshop was provided courtesy of Travel Oregon, an organization that specializes in vacation travel guides, and ran from November through the end of January. It teaches rural communities better techniques to enhance tourism to help stimulate the local economy.
Having concluded the workshop, community leaders will now put their newly-accumulated knowledge to work for Crook County.
“Now, we have moved into our action teams,” said workshop participant Brenda Comini. “Now the real work starts.”
The participants have formed three committees that will focus on different facets of local tourism. Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford, for example, serves on a committee that will focus on hiking and bicycling.
“What I’m looking to do is a three-prong attack of mountain biking in the Ochocos, road biking, and then paths through town,” he said. “Luckily, there were other people in the community looking into those things.”
Crawford said the participants chose these hobbies in particular because they learned through the class that the people who enjoy those hobbies tend to spend more money and time in a community.
“They spend nights in hotels,” he said. “They eat out at restaurants. It’s the low-hanging fruit. It’s something we can do without spending a bunch of money to bring people to our community.”
Another committee will commit their efforts to the marketing, particularly the creation of tour packages that highlight the Crook and Jefferson County area as well as Warm Springs.
“Through the class, we learned that a lot of international travelers don’t plan their own trips,” Crawford explained. “They sign up for packages.”
A third committee will emphasize what Comini referred to as workforce education development. They will provide training and information for local service business like restaurants or motels that workers can pass on to tourists as they visit. For example, if an individual who is dining at a restaurant asked the waiter what Crook County has to offer for recreation, they could provide them several options.
For Comini and Crawford as well as other local participants, the workshop has helped them develop new ideas and strategies that they might not have otherwise come up with on their own.
“I think that it was just crucial in helping give us some focus,” Comini said. “Without the expertise at each juncture it would have been extremely difficult for us to get off the ground.”
Now, they eagerly anticipate getting started and later seeing the fruits of their labors.
I’m really optimistic that by summer you will start to see some real results,” Comini said.