Business or Pleasure?
It doesn't matter. You can work and play here!
Article by Leah Moore | Photos courtesy of Travel Lane County
When you live in a place that has so much to offer — natural splendor, sporting events, festivals and fairs, craftspeople and artists, locally-sourced food and drink — it’s easy to take it for granted as a part of daily life. But many of the factors that make Eugene a wonderful place to live and work also make it a vacationer’s wonderland.
“The attributes that visitors support — our restaurants, our attractions and activities — are the things that we really enjoy as residents here, too,” said Kari Westlund, President & CEO of Travel Lane County, our local, non-profit destination marketing organization. Travel Lane County markets our area, “Eugene, Cascades & Coast”, as a destination not only for leisure travelers but for conferences, conventions and sporting events.
"Tourism and hospitality serve all of the other industry sectors," said Westlund. “This really comes to light when you think about meeting space; the ability to have dinners and functions, educational gatherings, scientific symposia, and facilitation around sporting events. You've got to have hotels, you've got to have meeting space, you've got to have restaurants. Whether we're visiting, or we live here, we're using all those assets all the time.”
A Growing Industry
The economic impact of the travel and hospitality industry in Lane County is stunning. Last year, visitors accounted for $676 million in travel and hospitality spending, a sector which employs nearly 10,800 people. The industry has experienced steady growth over the past eight years and continues to bolster our local economy while encouraging development that's beneficial for both visitors and residents alike.
The University of Oregon is the largest generator of visitors with its conventions, sporting events, visiting friends and family, cultural institutions, music and theater programs, and more. As the university grows and expands its programs and offerings the number of visitors is expected to grow as well.
Another driver of tourism and hospitality growth is Eugene’s status as Track Town, USA and its ability to attract major track and field events. These large, sometimes multi-day events result in millions of dollars of visitor spending, an estimated $37 million for an Olympic Team Trials event, and generate substantial awareness of Eugene as a travel destination.
Track Town, USA on the World Stage
In August 2021, Eugene will host the IAAF World Championships Oregon21, an international track and field event that occurs in a different city every two years. The event is expected to attract 2,000 participants from as many as 214 different countries, as well as tens of thousands of visitors, and will draw significant media attention.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to introduce the Eugene area to the rest of the world,” said Westlund, adding that Travel Lane County’s work will coincide with a state-wide tourism marketing effort. According to Travel Oregon’s research, fifty-nine percent of people who visit Oregon actively seek out Oregon-based products after they return home. Oregon21 is expected to be a catalyst not only for increased tourism to the state but for economic development around trade as well. "We have a great opportunity to tell our story around our maker economy and the artisan style goods that we create in this state,” says Westlund.
Opportunities Abound for Eugene Businesses
There are dozens of ways businesses benefit from tourism, whether it's directly through visitor spending or indirectly through overall economic impact, increased trade opportunities, community development projects, or meeting and event space. All sectors can work together and reap the rewards of making Lane County a more attractive place to visit.
In preparation for Oregon21, consider ways that you can help create an international sense of welcome. For the community as a whole, Oregon21 is an opportunity for learning, community engagement, and relationship building that will have a long-lasting impact both for residents and future visitors
“It's a great opportunity for us to introduce the Eugene area to the rest of the world."
Kari Westlund, CEO of Travel Lane County
Kari Westlund, CEO of Travel Lane County
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