For thousands of years, coastal romantics and oceanic researchers have placed messages in glass bottles and sent them out to sea. Sometimes they wanted to prove how ocean currents move. Other times important news was shoved into a glass bottle and thrown out as a last resort to let people know of new worlds. And of course, love letters, poems and words of a long-distance hello were carefully written and placed in the ocean with a wish. It’s incredible to think of the durability of a glass bottle — its ability to bob for years through immense oceans and withstand hurricanes that sink ships. It’s an unimaginable journey to hopefully share some kind of communication with someone (anyone?) waiting on the shore.

Writing a communication during COVID-19 feels a bit like trying to put a message in a bottle. Do we write about our love for the Coast and our unwavering confidence in coastal communities? Do we describe what we are actively doing during this unprecedented time in history? Or do we observantly explain how all of our work, our lives and our oceans blend together to bring comfort to the idea that we, all of us, are not alone, regardless of the status of our isolation. Fortunately for us, this is a newsletter and not a glass vessel, so we’ll touch on all of those and can always dive deeper (via email, phone, LinkedIn, or yelling across a parking lot) with any interested stakeholders.

OCVA has continued to invest time, effort and funding into our coastal destination development projects, long-term marketing tactics and community-based support services like workforce trainings (available online). These endeavors are guided by our North Star aka the RCTP two-year plan, which you can always view online. Our plan was developed so heavily by stakeholder feedback that all of our work is still relevant and will certainly benefit our communities when travelers can safely start visiting again. We have been analyzing our plan to see if there are ways that we can adjust some of our investments to better react to COVID-19 impacts and needs. We will let our stakeholders know of any change of course.

In addition to this, we are actively engaged in regional economic recovery meetings, statewide Zoom calls with Travel Oregon and fellow regional destination management organizations, and several other meetings with the intent to stay up to date on COVID-19 issues and impacts to our tourism industry. About every week or so, we share any new findings or lessons learned with our coastal DMOs and Chambers. For more frequent updates or communications, people can check out our Industry Resources page and LinkedIn for any relevant tourism news.

Speaking of DMOs and Chambers, we have been extremely impressed with the leadership these organizations have shown along the entire coastline. From gathering local, state and federal business resources for their communities, starting take-out campaigns and mitigating visitation issues, they have been proactive and inspirational during this time. Additionally, every day brings more positive news of businesses providing meals for families in need, cafe owners theatrically reading books to kids, vacation rentals donating thousands of gloves for medical professionals, and the list goes on.

What an honor it is to live and work alongside community-minded, coastal residents in a world-class destination. When this storm is over and your glass bottle arrives to the feet of a visitor far away, what message will be inside? A promise of the best destination worth visiting? Learnings from personal research about coastal community resilience? A simple hello and a wish to reconnect with the rest of the world? Whatever your message is, we’re here to help you craft it, and we have 363 miles of the most beautiful coastline from which to send it.

– The OCVA Team