Ask someone to name their favorite Oregon Coast experience and chances are they will mention natural attractions such as Haystack Rock, Cape Perpetua, the Oregon Dunes, or one of many National Wildlife Refuges along the Coast.
Recognizing the role the tourism industry plays in educating visitors about these special places, including how to preserve and protect them and how to safely enjoy them, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA) has convened a group of resource management experts to find common ground and develop key messages in an effort to help them amplify their collective voice.
“The OCVA Strategic Advisory Group is made up of representatives from state and federal coastal land management agencies who are responsible for the safety of visitors on their properties as well as the long-term viability of the public lands and natural resources for which visitors so eagerly travel here to enjoy,” says Marcus Hinz, OCVA executive director. “The coastal resource management agencies are the official stewards of coastal resources and therefore naturally strong partners.”
Responding to a critical need
Many of the Coast’s most beloved destinations are becoming increasingly threatened by drought, forest fires, loss of habitat due to development, overuse and other factors. Addressing these threats as a way to protect and preserve the region’s cultural and natural resources is a high priority for communities, businesses, government agencies and nonprofits along the Coast, including the tourism industry. The Strategic Advisory Group is the only coordinated Coast-wide effort between tourism and resource managers to reduce the impacts of visitation on natural resources while also promoting public safety.
“Enhancing sustainability programs was a top priority among those who participated in the 2017 Regional Tourism Stakeholder Survey,” Hinz says. In the context of OCVA’s strategic plan,“enhancing sustainability” includes: alleviating congestion during peak tourism season in areas of high visitation; increasing adoption of sustainable business practices in tourism business; managing tourism growth in order to preserve local assets (natural & cultural); and developing transportation alternatives for visitors in the region.
Creating a unified voice
When people visit the Coast they receive a lot of information, ranging from where to eat to how to interact with tidepools to how to evacuate during a tsunami and everything in between. When members of the OCVA Strategic Advisory Group began comparing notes in 2014 during a facilitated listening session, they found that many of them experienced similar challenges around communication.
Out of that listening session, OCVA determined that it could use its own communications channels — website, newsletters, visitors centers, visitor guides and social media — to directly reach visitors. Working with the members of the Strategy Advisory Group, OCVA developed an annual communications calendar and will be creating a communications toolkit that all partners, including OCVA and regional destination management organizations, can use to share consistent messages, according to Hinz.
“OCVA has cultivated the People’s Coast brand, which aims to inspire people to be conscious travelers and take the time to learn about and care for the places they love. This communications toolkit is one way we are engaging land managers in a more inclusive, collaborative process. It’s a new way of doing things, but I think it will pay off.”
“Starting the dialog between agencies and the tourism industry from the perspective of management of resources has been very beneficial,” says Janet Johnson, manager of the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. “I look forward to seeing it continue to grow.”
To learn more, or to join future meetings of the OCVA Strategic Advisory Group, please contact Marcus Hinz, OCVA executive director, at Director@ThePeoplesCoast.com, or 541-264-0543.