Oregon's Tillamook Coast Ready to Increase Economic Benefits from Tourism Boom

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Tillamook County sees higher than expected tax receipts from tourism

The potential for developing economic growth for Tillamook County through Tourism is tremendous! Lodging Tax receipts are already almost double those budgeted for the first year." Nan Devlin Tillamook Coast Tourism Director.

One year after Tillamook County residents approved a county-wide Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) by a two-to-one ratio, the stage has been set to roll out the brand of "Tillamook Coast, it's the natural choice," and make grants available to the community. At the time of the ballot measure, it was estimated that the county would realize $1.4 million in TLT funds in 2014. However, as of Nov. 30, 2014, the fund had already exceeded the original estimate, and is expected to reach as high as $2.3 million by year's end.

"Our goal for a county-wide tourism initiative is to improve the economic prosperity of Tillamook County and its residents," said Mark Labhart, Tillamook County Commissioner. "We're now in a good position to improve roads, tourism facilities and visitor experiences that enhance business development."

Tillamook County's TLT program is unlike other tourism models in Oregon. Of the total TLT funds collected, 30 percent will be retained by Tillamook County to be allocated to the public works area for maintenance of county roads. The remaining 70 percent will be spent under a contract with the Economic Development Council of Tillamook County for the promotion of tourism within the county. That amount will include various marketing programs designed to encourage and grow tourism in Tillamook County, especially in the shoulder and off seasons. It will also include new or improvements to existing tourism related physical facilities as well as administration of the entire program. The mix of marketing programs and tourism related physical projects will vary from year to year depending on need, marketing success and many other factors.

In addition to funding of physical facilities used by visitors and residents, such as restrooms, boat launches, conference centers and more. TLT funds will also be used for grants to tourism-related organizations for marketing and promotion purposes. The overall intent is to promote the Tillamook Coast to regional, national and international markets, and build an effective tourism organization.

"We're breaking new ground in Oregon in how TLT funds are appropriated, and the Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC) has been putting in long hours over the last year to ensure these programs are presented in a responsible manner," said Doug Olson, Chair of the Economic Development Council (EDC) and liaison to the TAC.

Availability of facility funding and community marketing grants will be announced in the first quarter of 2015. Proposals will be reviewed by the EDC and TAC according to guidelines approved by EDC, TAC and Tillamook County legal counsel. Information on qualifications and applications will be announced in the first quarter of 2015.

In the last 12 months, the TAC has overseen the development of a tourism assessment and strategic branding plan, the launch of a website and social media programs, a brand awareness benchmark study, and the hiring of a tourism director.

The new Tourism Director, Nan Devlin assumed her position on December 1, 2014, and will launch an integrated marketing and public relations campaign in early 2015. A marketing administrative assistant is also expected to be in place by early next year.

"March and April are the months in which many people begin making vacation plans, not just for summer getaways, but throughout the fall and winter," said Devlin. "To catch their attention, we're doing a big push in online marketing, social media, public relations, advertising and media outreach. We have to get our story out now and prepare for visitors’ experiences."

For the time being, consultants will be used to build social media campaigns, determine wayfinding needs, create content (video, blogs, feature stories, tours), and assist in outreach for increasing meetings and conferences. As organizational needs grow over the next two years, other full-time roles may be added.

TAC members represent towns and organizations throughout Tillamook County. Current members include Betty Baumgart, Rockaway Beach; Eugene Tish, Garibaldi House Inn & Suites; Justin Aufdermauer, Tillamook Chamber of Commerce; Co-chair Judson Randall, Oceanside; Gloria Scullin, Pacific City; Jeremy Strober, Inn at Cape Kiwanda; Valerie Folkema, Bay City; Mary Faith Bell, Beaver; and Co-chair Mayor Shirley Kalkhoven, Nehalem (representing county mayors).

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About Tillamook Coast
The Tillamook Coast is one of Oregon's most popular destinations. Bays, rivers and ocean beaches offer visitors a wide range of nature-based activities, from surfing, kayaking, fishing and clamming to beachcombing and hiking. Fresh seafood is a specialty, as is world-famous cheese and breweries. The Tillamook Coast includes several villages, each with its own unique character, from Nehalem Bay and Manzanita in the north to Pacific City and Neskowin in the south. For more information and to plan your getaway, visit http://www.tillamookcoast.com
Picture shown above (L-R) are the Tourism Advisory Committe for Visit Tillamook Coast:
Eugene Tish of Garabaldi House Garabaldi, OR. Mayor Shirley Kalkhoven of Nehalem, OR, Co-Chair. Mary Faith Bell Tillamook Regional Medical Center, Beaver OR. County Commissioner Mark Labhart (liaison). Nan Devlin Tourism Director for Visit Tillamook Coast. Judson Randall of Oceanside, OR, Co-Chair. Doug Olson, Douglas NW Properties, Pacific City, OR Chair of EDC. Jeremy Strober Kiwanda Hospitality Pacific City, OR.

Absent: Justin Aufdermauer Director Tillamook Chamber of Commerce. Betty Baumgart Rockaway Beach, OR. Valerie Folkema Bay City, OR, and Gloria Scullin Pacific City, OR.

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