Eugene, OR - Travel Lane County is pleased to announce Samara Phelps as the organization's new President/CEO. Ms. Phelps will join Travel Lane County in mid-September and have an opportunity to work alongside retiring President/CEO Kari Westlund before her departure this fall.  

Ms. Phelps grew up in Eugene and began her career in the visitor industry working for Travel Lane County where she gained experience as a Visitor Services Coordinator, Director of Visitor Services and Director of Stakeholder Relations between 2007-2015. In 2015, she joined Clackamas County Tourism and in 2019 was named Executive Director of Clackamas County Tourism which is the destination marketing and management organization promoting the Mount Hood Territory region. She also gained valuable experience in managing a regional destination management organization (RDMO) by leading the Mt. Hood & the Columbia River Gorge RDMO's.

Samara attended the University of Oregon where she attained a Bachelor of Arts in General Science with a minor in Business Administration. She holds a VisitAble Disability Inclusion Certificate and is a graduate of both the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy and the Chinook Institute for Civic Leadership. She has been active within her community and serves as the President of Nearby Nature here in Eugene. 

Ms. Phelps commented in her interview, "I have two motivators that drive my passion for this work. One is stewardship for the place, people and partners of the destination. The second is developing, empowering and supporting individuals to create a team aligned with a mission, vision and strategy. Weaving together these two motivators makes the work engaging, meaningful and creative.

Board Chair Dana Turell noted, the Travel Lane County Board succession planning committee was pleased to see nationwide interest in the President/CEO position. More than 40 applications were received and four candidates were interviewed. It was the committee's intention to move the top candidates to second interviews, however the committee was so impressed by Ms. Phelps background, her vision for our region and her passion for the industry that a recommendation was immediately sent to and approved by the full board."


Board Chair Dana Turell,, 541.685.5000

Samara Phelps,, 971.334.9479

About Travel Lane County

Travel Lane County markets and promotes the Eugene, Cascades and Coast region as a destination for travel, conventions, sports, meetings and events. It serves as a private, nonprofit association dedicated to economic development through visitor spending, which pumped more than $1.3 billion into Lane County, Oregon's economy in 2023. 

Travel Lane County was incorporated in 1979 and began operations in 1980 (as the Eugene-Springfield CVB), about the time the Lane Events Center opened. The Hult Center for the Performing Arts, the Hilton and the Eugene Conference Center were under development. 

Travel Lane County was created specifically as an investment tool for Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) to help grow the local visitor economy. The cities of Eugene and Springfield provided annual funding. In 1983, Lane County added a 1% TLT for tourism marketing countywide by Travel Lane County.  

In 1993, hotels asked Lane County to increase TLT 2% and dedicate a total of 3% to destination marketing through Travel Lane County. The cities were released from direct funding. The County committed 2.1% of TLT to Travel Lane County annually, about 23% of collections. Four cities and several County programs also receive TLT revenue each year.


In fiscal year 97, TLT collections countywide totaled $4.3 million and in fiscal year 22 TLT collections countywide hit an all-time high of $16.8 million. Beginning January 1, 2023, the countywide TLT rate increased another 2% for investment in tourism facilities that attract visitors.

With a governing board of 30 voting directors and ten advisory directors, Travel Lane County is both broadly and deeply connected with both private industry and local government, working in service to both to build a vibrant, year-round countywide economy.