Survey reveals perspectives on tourism
Travel Oregon in early November released the findings of the latest Oregon Tourism Engagement Survey, which provides valuable insights from tourism industry stakeholders throughout the state. Their responses provide guidance and perspective on priorities for future investments from Regional Destination Management Organizations, such as the Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA).
“The information we glean from this annual survey helps OCVA determine whether our marketing and destination development activities are meeting the needs of stakeholders up and down the Coast,” says Marcus Hinz, OCVA executive director. “The region-by-region feedback is always interesting and something we take seriously.”
Of the roughly 611 respondents on the Coast, about 64% said they agreed or strongly agreed that they are engaged in the Oregon tourism industry.“This shows that businesses and organizations on the Coast are very engaged in the tourism industry and want their opinions to help shape OCVA’s future plans,” Hinz says. That’s a positive sign that our region as a whole is invested in our industry.”
The Coast had significantly more respondents than any other region (representing about 40% of the total respondents statewide). These respondents work in the nonprofit sector, for government agencies, lodging, retail, attractions, education and a variety of other organizations. Of those who filled out the survey, 40% were from the North Coast, 34% were from the Central Coast and 26% were from the South Coast. Some key findings include:
What we learned from respondents
Stakeholders think the positive effects outweigh the negative effects. As in the rest of the state, respondents are most in agreement that the positive effects of tourism outweigh is negative effects, and they are least in agreement that their community understands the value of tourism. On the Coast, most respondents are in agreement that the positive effects outweigh the negative effects. Yet, only 57% believe their community understands the value of tourism.
Stakeholders in the Oregon Coast region show the greatest demand for destination development. Specifically, 74% respondents indicated that increasing visitation during the off-season was the top priority (a higher percentage of South Coast respondents and a lower percentage of North Coast respondents felt this was important).
Outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism were seen as a top priority for destination development investments, along with increasing the adoptions of sustainable business practices for tourism-based businesses.
Stakeholders in the Oregon Coast region care about preserving local assets. Specifically, 72% of respondents indicated they wanted to preserve local assets (natural and cultural), with North Coast respondents showing the highest level of interest in this area.
Stakeholders in the Oregon Coast region recognize the need for training and capacity building when it comes to destination development. Specifically, 65% of respondents indicated this as a high to a very high priority for developing and managing tourism. The standout priority in the Coast region when it comes to building capacity for marketing was “offer marketing and promotional training for smaller communities and businesses.” This demand exists in roughly equal proportion in the three coastal sub-regions.
Stakeholders in the Oregon Coast region care about creating positive interactions between tourists and residents. A high percentage of respondents (69%) indicated that they want to create positive interactions between tourists and residents, with North Coast respondents showing the highest level of interest in this topic. Related to this, communicating the value of tourism to local and regional policymakers was regarded as a high or very high priority by 66% of respondents.
Respondents were also asked an open-ended question to describe a specific outcome they would like their region to achieve in the next three to five years that would increase the economic impact of tourism or enhance the vitality and sustainability of the destination. The most common topics were: Product and Experience Development (21%), Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Areas (16%) and increasing visitation to the region during off-peak seasons (13%).
“These findings are very reassuring because they help confirm we’re on the right track in many areas, such as focusing marketing spending during the off-season and working with our Strategic Advisory Group to collaborate on conservation and sustainability issues,” Hinz says. “But they also allow us to pause and reflect on how we can better serve stakeholders in our Northern, Central and Southern sub-regions, who face different issues from each other.”