National Travel & Tourism Week is a time to celebrate an industry that generates over $2 trillion in annual spending and represents 1 in 10 jobs in the United States. May 3-9 would have been an opportunity to talk about visitor spending in Lane County exceeding $1 billion annually and the more than 11,000 employees that create great Oregon experiences every day. This year is different. This year, our industry is reeling under the stress of layoffs and closures. Nationwide estimates include over 8 million unemployed hospitality workers and an estimated economic impact loss of $1.2 trillion.
Impacts like these are heart-wrenching for the individuals and families that have worked so hard to create and sustain the businesses we all love. But one thing is for sure and that is the hospitality industry is strong, selfless and resilient. The National Travel & Tourism Week’s rallying cry is Spirit of Travel. We may not be able to travel and meet in person now, but the spirit of travel remains strong and when the time is right we will travel again.
Locally the spirit of travel manifests itself in #LoveLane. The hospitality industry has suffered a major blow, but this hasn't stopped many Travel Lane County partners from reinventing how they do business. With a passion for survival, for taking care of their employees and for serving the community, these businesses are a flame lighting our dark days. In recognition of the challenges our partners are experiencing, Lane County residents, from the coast to the Cascades, are rising up to support local business. #LoveLane is more than a hashtag. It's a statement that reflects the mutual need Lane County businesses have for their customers and the need residents and visitors have for our unique local businesses. And, while the #LoveLane assets will sustain us through this difficult 'stay home' period, they will also live on as our region prepares to welcome back the 3-5 million visitors who experience Lane County each year.
As the state prepares to reopen in phase one of Governor’s Brown’s plan, our ”Ready” stage will prepare communities and visitors for future travel. Traveler sentiment shows pent-up travel demand, but when people begin to travel they will have concerns about where the safest places are to travel. Residents will have fears around visitors coming into their communities and what that might mean for introduction of the virus and how essential services will be impacted. To address these concerns, Travel Lane County is producing a story series illustrating how area businesses have adapted to operating in ways that keep both employees and guests safe.
In phase two of Oregon’s reopening, our ”Set” stage will expand travel messaging more broadly to drive markets. Lane County is well-positioned to appeal to travelers looking for a less congested travel experience. Staff is updating content and developing paid advertising that will take advantage of the best opportunities to target those who love Lane County the way we do as locals and those who are in our 300-mile drive market.
Finally phase three will arrive and activities will return to a new state of normalcy. As this occurs, we will move to our “Go” stage and this involves visitors returning to Lane County for leisure trips, sporting events and conventions. Messaging will adapt to how businesses are operating and we will leverage the opportunities all of us and our visitors have for enjoying a great Oregon experience.
Rebuilding will take time, but the Spirit of Travel burns brightly across the nation. Locally, we #LoveLane County and nothing will keep us from sharing that love with each other and with visitors who will visit us for the Olympic Team Trials -Track & Field, World Athletics Championships Oregon22, Oregon Football, the Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Rhododendron & Scandinavian Festivals, conferences, conventions and so much more.
#LoveLane has something for each of us to share with friends and family, so please use the assets available on our website at https://www.eugenecascadescoast.org/tourism-industry-news/post/lovelane/. One element of #LoveLane is writing love letters that express the places and experiences we love most about Lane County. We can’t wait to see your love letter, so share it on social media and tag us @EugeneCascascadesCoast. Let’s show the world how much we #LoveLane County.