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Time to prove the rural tourism plans will work
February 18, 2013
Following a process that began several months ago, local leaders have concluded a workshop that they hope will help them boost local tourism and, in turn, improve the economy.
For years, tourism in Crook County has not reached its full potential. With multiple outdoor resources, as well as the Crooked River Roundup and the Pari-Mutuel horse races, the community has a lot to offer. With all of these options, local leaders should find effective ways to draw people to the community.
During the classes, conducted by Travel Oregon, participants identified three primary ways to enhance tourism in Crook County, with an emphasis on utilizing existing resources to minimize cost.
One of three committees will focus exclusively on improving hiking and biking opportunities, having learned at the workshop that people who indulge in those hobbies often spend money in the community on motels, restaurants, and other services.
We like the idea, but Crook County will need to improve its network of safe and viable paths in order to market them to people who are visiting. In addition, they will need to buy signage so that people will know where those trails go.
The other two emphases involve making an effort to better market what Crook County has to offer. One committee will start developing tour packages for international travelers. Local leaders learned that people from other countries tend to purchase travel packages when they visit the United States instead of developing their own itineraries. Another committee will focus on training the local service industries to up-sell what the community has to offer. For example, they would prepare a restaurant waiter to give a thorough answer to a customer asking about local recreational opportunities. We think this is a great idea unto itself, and we hope that the committee succeeds in this effort and sustains it into the future.
Workshop participants Seth Crawford and Brenda Comini both stated that the workshop gave them strategies and ideas that they may not have otherwise developed on their own.
We are glad they learned these new tools, but now they need to put them to use in a way that will produce real results.
Comini said that she was optimistic that people will start to see such results by as early as this coming summer. Now, we want them to make that happen. We don’t expect to see all of the results all at once, but if these ideas really work and will boost tourism and the economy, we want to see proof of that — sooner than later.
Without it, the time spent in the workshops as well as the time and money the work later requires, would result in nothing more than a failed exercise. In an economy that still faces high unemployment, we need local leaders to spend time on something that works.
Lastly, we urge workshop participants to keep a continuing dialogue going with Travel Oregon and other tourism experts as they proceed. While we understand that all new ideas take time, we ask them to remain open to other ideas if their chosen course of action doesn’t pan out.
Down the road, we hope to look back at the genesis of these tourism plans and know that local leaders made the right decisions, produced real results, and made Crook County a better place.