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Seal Rock-Waldport-Yachats: Trying to pump up tourism…

 Tourism  Comments Off on Seal Rock-Waldport-Yachats: Trying to pump up tourism…
Apr 102013

Waldport, OR

Waldport, OR

Yachats, OR

Yachats, OR

Both Newport and Lincoln City have hotel and motel room taxes that contribute handsomely to their tourism advertising budgets. But in south Lincoln County….not so much.

The communities of Seal Rock, Waldport and Yachats offer what many claim to be more rugged and dramatically beautiful coastlines. But how can those communities capitalize on that and many other attributes likes beautiful forests, trails and streams?

It’s a challenge that some of our south county communities are beginning to take seriously. Oregonian reporter Lori Tobias tells us what they’ve been up to in trying to convince more tourists to think of their area as a destination…not just a pretty picture drive-through. Click here.

Newport: Tourist attractions too good to pass up?

 Tourism, Tsunami Dock  Comments Off on Newport: Tourist attractions too good to pass up?
Mar 192013

Bob Ward Requests additional funding for new Japanese Tsunami Dock exhibit on Bayfront

Bob Ward
Requests additional funding for new Japanese Tsunami Dock exhibit on Bayfront

Corner of Tsunami Dock coveted by Bayfront business community

Corner of Tsunami Dock coveted by Bayfront business community

Must be removed from port property by April 1, according to Bob Ward

Must be removed from port property by April 1, according to Bob Ward

Proposed Sea Lion Dock Port Dock 5 Preliminary design

Proposed Sea Lion Dock
Port Dock 5
Preliminary design

Sea Lion Dock and Bayfront Tsunami Dock Foundation representative Bob Ward was back before the Newport City Council Monday night seeking more funds for two tourist projects his group is spearheading on the Bayfront.

Ward said the Sea Lion Dock at Port Dock 5 is going to cost them a bit more money than they planned for and so they need a little more from the city. Plus they’ve launched a new project which involves sawing off another corner of the Japanese Tsunami Dock that remains at McLean Point out the Bay Road. They want to place it at Undersea Gardens on the Bayfront with tsunami evacuation instructions on it so visitors will know which way to run if there is a major local earthquake. Ward said it’s also opportunity to create yet another tourist draw for the Bayfront, even if it’s a lot less than we saw last summer at Agate Beach where the dock came ashore last June. He said his group has been told by the port to get the piece sawed-off before April 1st, because come April 1st the rest of the dock must be removed from port property.

However, Mayor Sandra Roumagoux reminded Ward that the deadline for applying for funds for tourism related facilities has long passed and that he should redouble his group’s efforts to raise more money from Bayfront businesses and other potential donors. Ward replied that the recession has trimmed Bayfront business profits making it difficult for them to help with the project much more than they already have.

The council backed Mayor Roumagoux on her advice to Ward and then awarded his group the $50,000 they originally applied for to help build a permanent Sea Lion Dock and viewing deck at Port Dock 5.

“Whale spoken here.” The whales also ‘wave’ back…

 Tourism  Comments Off on “Whale spoken here.” The whales also ‘wave’ back…
Mar 182013

whale tail whale spoken here

From Andrea Scharf at ‘Go Yachats’

We Speak Whales!

What’s as big as a big yellow school bus, weighs as much as 35 VW bugs, eats a ton of amphipods and Mycid shrimp everyday (each one no bigger than an M&M), and swims 12,000 miles a year between the Arctic feeding grounds and the good times in the Bay of Cortez?

Only a gray whale rings the bell!

A group of 29 people from local visitor centers and tourist-related businesses in South Lincoln County gathered at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center on Thursday to learn about Gray Whales from Ian Fawley, Interpretive Ranger at the Depoe Bay Whale Watch Center and Beverly Beach State Park. The program was the second in a planned series of subject-based “We Speak” trainings designed for people who work at motels, restaurants, and stores frequented by tourists, as well as for volunteers at local visitor centers. The objective of this “We Speak” program is to help front line staff provide more accurate and complete information and answers to frequently asked questions about what to do and see in South Lincoln County.


The South Lincoln County (SLC) Rural Tourism Studio involved about sixty people from Yachats, Waldport, and Seal Rock, who learned about ways to promote low-impact, nature-based tourism while maintaining a healthy environment.

“We want to engage our visitors and provide them with helpful, accurate, and interesting information. This encourages visitors to feel welcome in our communities,” said Bev Wilson. “The local source of information can influence the visitor’s experience. When people get good information about what there is to see and do in an area, they are more likely to want to stay, to extend their stay, to come back, and to recommend the area to their friends and family. Plus attending these ‘We Speak’ sessions is a cool way to get to know your own community better.”


For Spring Whale Watch Week, trained experts are available all along the Oregon Coast at the official Whale Watching Spoken Here sites between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., March 23-30, 2013. More information is available at the Oregon State Parks & Recreation Whale Watch website,, or by calling The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, 541-765-3304. Local visitor centers along the coast will also have information. In South Lincoln County, you can find whale watch interpreters stationed just south of Yachats at Cape Perpetua Visitors Center and at Cook’s Chasm during Whale Watch week. For more information, call the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center, 541-547-3289.


If you want to look for whales in a serious way, be sure to dress for weather that can range from cold, windy and wet to glorious sunshine. Layering is the way to do it, and don’t forget your thermos, sunglasses and sun screen. Bring binoculars, patience, and a friend to share the experience. Forget your cell phone and your daily obligations and get into a different rhythm. And remember: even if you don’t see a whale, you’ll be looking out at the spectacular and inspiring great Pacific Ocean. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Newport: Sea Lion Dock taking shape….on paper. Supporters seeking $106,000 to build it – $50,000 from Newport

 Tourism  Comments Off on Newport: Sea Lion Dock taking shape….on paper. Supporters seeking $106,000 to build it – $50,000 from Newport
Mar 052013
New Sea Lion Dock Newport Bayfront Extends it westerly

New Sea Lion Dock
Newport Bayfront
Extends it westerly

Supporters of rebuilding the Sea Lion Docks down on the Bayfront offered a graphic image of what it would take to rebuild not only the docks where the sea lions like to sun themselves and sleep, but also to extend the public viewing area to the west six to ten feet to get the public off what is a working dock for fishermen.

Supporters say they need $50,000 from the city’s “Tourism Facilities Fund” to put them over the top. They presented their plan to the city council Monday night showing public donations for $12,000, County Community at $8,000, Siletz Tribal Fund $8,000, Meyer Memorial Fund $10,000 and $18,000 from the Collins Foundation. All tolled, $106,000 to give the sea lions a new stage on which to perform to the delight of tourists. They said if awarded the $50,000, they would expect to be building the new facility from November through early February – in time for the tourist season in 2014.


Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) of Portland, which is applying for $150,000 from the same “Tourism Facilities Fund” said they need the money to show local community buy-in for their proposed family oriented education facility planned for South Beach. City Councilor David Allen challenged the application by wondering if the state mandated criteria that an applying entity build a facility which, by its mission, entails a substantial purpose of being tourist related is fully met by the OMSI application. OMSI officials on hand assured the council that it does meet that criteria in that they bring in families and children from all over Oregon who will have lots of free time to mill about the area, including seeing shows, eating in restaurants, taking tours, etc. They also said their South Beach facility would also be available for small conventions and meetings of all kinds which would benefit the restaurants and hotels in town.


The perennial call for building a large, regional Aquatic Park at South Beach was also raised but a couple members of the task force that reviewed the applications for tourism facility funds said the committee was solidly against giving the park supporters funds. “Not ready to move forward,” ‘lacking fundraising capabilities,” no firm plans or actual design,” no solid cost estimates of what the project will cost,” were some of findings made by the committee, which also recommended that no funding be provided to the group. And the city council agreed, telling the Aquatic Park’s chief spokesman and former city councilor Jeff Bertuleit that they would not consider any funding at this time. Bertuleit protested saying OMSI’s project is equally in the initial phases on the road to becoming real – hinting at some arbitrary bias against the Aquatic Park. However the council was told that OMSI has a proven record of building facilities statewide to extend their reach into areas that offer exciting education opportunities for science and industry exploration by young and old.

In the end the council decided to fire off some last minute questions at OMSI and the the Sea Lion Dock booster group as to why they should receive city support for their projects and how their projects would satisfy the state statutory requirement that a “substantial purpose” behind their projects would be to promote tourism. The matter comes back to the council March 18.


Know Your Newport: If YOU don’t know, how can you help visitors to the area?

 Tourism  Comments Off on Know Your Newport: If YOU don’t know, how can you help visitors to the area?
Mar 042013
"Know Your Newport" Chamber of Commerce event

“Know Your Newport”
Chamber of Commerce event

“Know Your Newport” Seeking Vendors
From Newport Chamber of Commerce

Whether you travel or not, everyone utilizes services from shops, restaurants and if you’re on the road, lodging accommodations. Getting friendly assistance, accurate information, and helpful recommendations makes your experience a good one. The Newport Chamber of Commerce conducts a “Know Your Newport” hospitality workshop each year to educate service industry personnel and local residents about “what’s happening” in our area.


Hospitality happens year round on the coast with events, conventions and conferences. But our biggest influx of visitors comes during the summer. Having knowledgeable front-line employees creates a good impression for your business and for the community at large. One of the most effective ways to give your employees the tools and information they need to be successful is to participate in the workshop.

Traditionally, “Know Your Newport” spotlights hotels, activities and attractions, but this year the event organizers plan to include retail and restaurants. Businesses are encouraged to sign up for vendor space and share what they have to offer, both to locals and guests alike.


This year’s workshop will be held on May 15th, at the Embarcadero Hotel Resort with two sessions, morning and evening. Attendees will explore vendor booths, talk with businesses and then take a “virtual tour” of Newport’s various neighborhoods. Participants will receive passes to many activities and venues around Newport, with refreshments and door prizes rounding out the session. One Grand Prize of $100 will be featured at each session of the training seminar, and the Employee of the Year will be announced during this event.

The Newport Chamber of Commerce urges businesses to sign up early for complimentary vendor space, as well as to offer an opportunity for their employees to attend one of the sessions. These educational classes are a way to provide exceptional hospitality training that will be used day to day throughout the greater Newport area. For information or to sign up for vendor space call the Chamber office: 541-265-8801 or by email at


Travel Oregon Presents Grant Funds to South Lincoln County

 Tourism, Waldport  Comments Off on Travel Oregon Presents Grant Funds to South Lincoln County
Mar 032013
 Photo caption: Tourism development grant presented to South Lincoln County Rural Tourism Studio. From left to right: David Locke, President of Greater Yachats Chamber of Commerce; Holly Macfee, Vice President for Brand Strategy, Travel Oregon; Sue Woodruff, Mayor of Waldport, co-chair of RTS Umbrella Committee; Maggie Rivers, Director, Port of Alsea; Harry Dalgaard, Destination Development Specialist,Travel Oregon; Bev Wilson, Director Yachats Visitor Center; Sandy Dunn, Yachats City Council; Andrea Scharf, Marketing Director, GoYachats.

Photo caption: Tourism development grant presented to South Lincoln County Rural Tourism Studio. From left to right: David Locke, President of Greater Yachats Chamber of Commerce; Holly Macfee, Vice President for Brand Strategy, Travel Oregon; Sue Woodruff, Mayor of Waldport, co-chair of RTS Umbrella Committee; Maggie Rivers, Director, Port of Alsea; Harry Dalgaard, Destination Development Specialist,Travel Oregon; Bev Wilson, Director Yachats Visitor Center; Sandy Dunn, Yachats City Council; Andrea Scharf, Marketing Director, GoYachats.

The first installment of a grant for $7,500 from Travel Oregon is on its way to the South Lincoln County Rural Tourism project. A “big check” facsimile was presented on Thursday, February 28, to representatives of the local project by Holly Macfee, Vice President for Global Brand Strategy, and Harry Dalgaard, Destination Development Strategist, both with the Oregon Tourism Commission dba Travel Oregon.

The communities of Waldport, Seal Rock, and Yachats participated in the Rural Tourism training program last spring. Action teams were formed to carry out several projects: development of a map of all non-motorized trails between Ona Beach and Cummins Creek; the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic, a cycling event which will take place October 5-6, 2013; We Speak, a training program for hospitality workers; and development of a plan for marketing this area to attract new visitors and encourage them to stay longer.


Macfee was in Yachats to share a “brand toolkit” developed by the Travel Oregon team and Travel Oregon’s agency of record, Portland ad firm Wieden + Kennedy, to help rural communities promote tourism through joint marketing efforts with their local destination marketing organization which, in the case of the coast, is the Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA). The marketing theme is The People’s Coast, making generous use of the fact that thanks to a bill passed when Tom McCall was governor, all of Oregon’s 363 miles of coastline literally “belong to the people” with free and unlimited access for Oregonians and visitors alike—something that is not true in other coastal states, where ocean scenery is often marred by No Trespassing signs and barred to public access.


Tourism is a major source of employment in rural areas, and South Lincoln County is no exception. In 2010, tourism generated 19,950 jobs on the Oregon coast, and $1.5 billion dollars in revenue, the second biggest region in the state after Portland. Promoting our area helps attract new residents and businesses. This makes our Rural Tourism projects a vital part of the local economy, with widespread impacts.

Sue Woodruff, mayor of Waldport and co-chair of the Rural Tourism Umbrella Committee, says she is very excited to have these projects finally coming to fruition. “We expect great results from all of the action teams’ efforts. Tourism dollars help keep our local economy healthy. This allows us to diversify our economies to retain existing businesses and residents, and bring in new services and stores so that our communities remain vital and we don’t have to drive over to the Valley every time we need a new pair of shoes!”


Rebuild of Newport’s Sea Lion Dock must wait until next winter.

 Sealife, Tourism  Comments Off on Rebuild of Newport’s Sea Lion Dock must wait until next winter.
Jan 252013

Dilapidated sea lion docks on Newport’s Bayfront

Although the Sea Lion Dock Foundation this week was awarded another $8,000 from county commissioners toward repairing the popular but disintegrating sea lion dock, it’s only a drop in the bay for what will be required to get the job done.   As you can see in the top photograph, the upper walkway and viewing area is actually part of a working pier with vehicles driving up and down, loading and unloading gear from fishing and other vessels.

In light of that, Port of Newport officials recently decided that the proper way to restore the sea lion attraction is to build a separate public viewing deck overlooking the soon-to-be rebuilt floating dock below. So instead of a relatively cheap replacement of the sea lion perch, the sticker price has now gone over $100,000. However, Sea Lion Dock Foundation member Bob Ward says they’re confident they can raise the money for what is certainly a prime tourist attraction on the Bayfront. He says the foundation will seek $50,000 in Newport hotel-motel room tax funds to match what the foundation expects to raise from other sources.

Ward says the upgraded sea lion dock “complex” will require a lot more work than upgrading the sea lion docks themselves so they’ll miss this year’s “in water” working season which stretches from November to the end of January. Oregon Fish and Wildlife prohibits “in water” work which disturbs fish migration activities which runs through much of the rest of the year. Ward says they’ll apply for work permits for next winter which, by then, they should have all the funding raised and the materials ready to go in the water for both the sea lions and the tourists who love to watch them up close.

Lincoln City City Council seeking more “bang” for their “buck” in tourist and special event advertising

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Jun 112012

Lincoln City City Council, Monday

Saying they want to stretch the city’s tourism advertising dollars farther to hopefully boost visitor counts, Lincoln City city councilors voted Monday night to begin formulating a plan that would see the city’s hotel-motel room taxes supplement the advertising done by for-profit operations like Chinook Winds and Tanger Outlet Mall. These and other major businesses already sponsor special events throughout the year.

It’s part of an evolving policy that the council has been advancing lately that weans city support away from some events that some call “lackluster,” in favor of applying advertising dollars toward other events that produce more “heads in beds” for local hotels, motels and vacation rental dwellings.

Mayor Dick Anderson said he would like to see the city’s Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB) partner with proven successful for-profit entities to help them bring even more visitors to the city. He and VCB Director Sandy Pfaff went over a hypothetical example. “Tanger approaches the VCB and asks for assistance in putting on an event that has the potential to bring a substantial number of visitors to Lincoln City. The success of that event, both for Tanger and for the city as a whole, is heavily dependent upon effective marketing, including advertising and other promotional activities. The VCB, either through staff or a formal request to the Visitors and Convention Committee (VCC), or another group, agrees to spend money with Tanger on specific marketing efforts agreed to in advance such as appearing at a sporting event in Portland to promote the event or placing $5,000 in ads in The Oregonian. The ads or other promotional materials would include certain features that strengthen the general marketing campaign done on behalf of Lincoln City as a whole. The features might include the look of the ad and/or a highlighted activity within the ad and/or taglines and print font styles that remind the reader that this IS Lincoln City, as well as Tanger and “Hoop It Up.” We are, in this case, sending potential visitors a joint message.”

Since the use of city room tax funds for advertising special events has, in the past, been aimed mainly at non-profit groups and their events, the council indicated that they want clear requirements to accompany any city partnering with the private sector; how will the city’s money be leveraged and to what extent, promoting the city’s branding or logo presence in the advertising and whether an event has the potential to attract substantial numbers of tourists to Lincoln City and methods to verify whether it did its job.

Although the VCB will continue to support major (emphasis on “major”) tourist events, Mayor Anderson said the bureau must operate in a way that very substantially attracts more visitors without dishing out a lot more money. Mayor Anderson and the council asked Pfaff to come back to the council in July with a plan to launch such a public-private marketing partnership while not ignoring the major events the VCB is already sponsoring while also keeping an ear to the ground for emerging special events created by non-profits.

South County trying to get their tourism outreach a little more organized

 Tourism  Comments Off on South County trying to get their tourism outreach a little more organized
May 292012

Kristin Dahl, RTS Director, hands out graduation certificates to Andrea Scharf (left), marketing director for Yachats, and Susan Woodruff (right), mayor of Waldport.

South Lincoln County Communities Complete Rural Tourism Program
Provided by RTS

For the past four months, 40 to 50 people from Seal Rock, Waldport, and Yachats have participated in an intense program geared to enhancing rural communities through sustainable tourism.

The program, sponsored by TravelOregon, the state’s tourism promotion office, brought together area residents, business owners, government leaders, and travel industry representatives to learn how to forge long-lasting partnerships, envision an obtainable future, develop attractions that bring visitors to the area of South Lincoln County, and—most important—to let the world know about this special area of tall trees, crashing waves, diverse wildlife, and friendly people.

The final workshop was “where the rubber hits the road:” how will this group capitalize on the lessons that were learned over the past four months? The answer was to form several action teams. One will work on overall marketing strategies and connecting the three communities so that visitors stay longer in the area and explore them all. Another team is working on bringing a world-class adventure race to the area in 2013. The third group is developing plans to consolidate information about all the trails in the south county area, including hiking, mountain biking, and water trails for kayaks and canoes. A matching grant from TravelOregon will help kick off these efforts.

If you are interested in participating on the Action Teams or want more information about the Rural Tourism Studio program in south Lincoln County, contact Andrea Scharf, 541 547 3092. For more information about the RTS program in general, visit

Depoe Bay’s new Whale, Sea Life and Shark Museum!

 Tourism  Comments Off on Depoe Bay’s new Whale, Sea Life and Shark Museum!
May 262012

Whale, Sea Life and Shark Museum
Click on photos to enlarge

Carrie Newell knew since she was 7 years old she wanted to be a marine biologist. Today, she teaches marine biology at Lane Community College, conducts whale watching tours and this weekend opened Depoe Bay’s new Whale, Sea Life and Shark Museum in downtown Depoe Bay, just south of the bridge.

Her new museum opened its doors Saturday to the public who learned about specific species of whales, sharks, seabirds, seals, sea lions, crustaceans and other critters of the deep. Large, well lit displays tantalize the eye as well as the mind with clearly written information about what you’re looking at and how it fits into the grand scheme of our world’s oceans. Especially right off our Oregon Coast.

Owner Carrie Newell, caught in photo #4 (in black) smiling at the camera, said it was an outgrowth of her successful whale watching business which always produces more customer questions about the sea than she has the opportunity to answer. So, the museum is her way of answering those questions. Visitors can wander about, drinking in the sights and ambiance of the ocean, which in one case emanate from a flat screen in the museum’s Sea Life Theater. Various DVD’s are featured that cover specific aspects of the open sea. Some are even for sale along with informational books Carrie has authored about whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, sea otters, seabirds and shorebirds.

Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $3 for kids. The museum is open seven days a week from 9am-5pm and is managed by retired state park ranger Morris Grover, a well known whale watching educator in Depoe Bay.

Carrie Newell also runs a busy whale watching and research operation from Dock 3 inside the Depoe Bay Harbor using a fleet of quick and nimble Zodiacs as well as a sailing craft. For more information visit her website at