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

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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?

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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

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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!

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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

Lincoln City City Council begins course change for Visitors Bureau

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Apr 232012

Lincoln City City Council, Monday

Saying that they want more accountability and re-assurances that Lincoln City is getting the most bang for their tourism promotion buck, the city council Monday night got their glimpse of what that might look like. Visitors and Convention Bureau Chief Sandy Pfaff and VCB Committee member Diane Kusz told the council that rather than promoting a large number of special events, the VCB is recommending that they preserve only proven winners, like “Finders Keepers,” “Kite Festival,” “Cook-Offs,” and “4th of July Fireworks.” Pfaff said they’ll continue to be primary sponsors for these events, but at the same time, if other groups or non-profits want to step forward and continue supporting other events, like “Antique Week” or have ideas for new ones the VCB will do what it can to advise and to help as long as it doesn’t substantially impact the VCB budget. However, City Manager David Hawker chimed in that if a hot new idea crosses the city’s desk, “We’ll find a way to help it along. We’ve always got minor start up resources for that,” he said.

Pfaff said the VCB will put more energy into social networking like Facebook and Twitter along with other electronic marketing. She said that Glass, Kites and Culinary should remain Lincoln City’s blended brand of tourism. Councilor Roger Sprague said he wants the VCB to ensure that the 4th of July Fireworks is a sure thing from here on. “I don’t want to be wondering whether we’re going to have fireworks year to year. If we’re doing to have ’em, let’s have ’em. We need to make a commitment.” Pfaff said “It’s not my call, it’s entirely up to you guys (city council).”

Mayor Dick Anderson said he would like to see VCB staff put some money aside for a healthy reserve fund to give the VCB more flexibility in planning and promoting events. Maybe work with larger corporate sponsors on bigger ideas. Anderson also said he would like to see the VCB’s advisory committee make quarterly reports to the city council – give the council some updates on how things are going and what new opportunities there might be out there. Advisory Committee member Diane Kusz said they would do their best.

The VCB’s budget for next fiscal year is included in the city’s overall budget plan for 2012-13. The VCB and all other city departments will be discussed and debated between the city council and the council’s citizens advisory budget committee. They are meeting jointly over the next few weeks.

So more focus, sticking with proven tourist draws, helping others promote and run middle tier events…the new approach for the Lincoln City Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Small town tourism and how to grow it…

 Tourism  Comments Off on Small town tourism and how to grow it…
Apr 192012

Soul Vacation Resort, Bayshore/Waldport

South County Rural Tourism Studio Hosts An Evening for Entrepreneurs

On Tuesday, April 24, the Rural Tourism program will host An Evening for Entrepreneurs. If you are thinking of starting a business in south Lincoln County, particularly one that is related to tourism activities, this is a good opportunity to find out what resources are available to help you with financing, permits and zoning, marketing, management, and the inspiration of others who have chosen a similar path. This program takes place at the Soul Vacation Resort in Waldport from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Rural Tourism program is a series of workshops offered by TravelOregon, the state’s tourism marketing program. South Lincoln County, consisting of Yachats, Waldport and Seal Rock, was selected for the program based on an application which described the assets of the community and identified areas where improvements were needed to make tourism a vibrant part of the area’s economic health while preserving the qualities that make the south county attractive to travelers and residents alike.

The third set of workshops takes place April 24 and 25, focusing on nature-based tourism development and how to create and produce high impact events, in addition to the Evening for Entrepreneurs. About thirty people have participated in two sets of workshops and one more set is planned for mid-May. The kickoff event was community tourism visioning, in which participants considered alternative scenarios for how the area could change depending on where resources are (or are not) directed. The second set, destination branding, explored how visitors see this area and how we can increase our ‘curb appeal’ and encourage people to stop and visit our shops and restaurants, stay in our lodging facilities, and enjoy the many activities available in the south county.

To find out more about the Rural Tourism Studio program or to register to attend any of the sessions, including the Evening for Entrepreneurs, visit, or call Andrea Scharf, 541 547 3092.

Depoe Bay City Council gets thumbs down on further fireworks fired from Pirate’s Cove – even from Fogarty Creek!

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Apr 032012

Courtesy photo

Mayor Carol Connors dropped some bad news on her city council Tuesday night. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department will not allow any more fireworks launched from Pirate’s Cove because “the fireworks are disruptive to Pacific Flyway Treaty protected sea birds that nest in the area.” What’s worse, a suggestion that the fireworks be moved to Fogarty Creek Park as an alternative site “has been quashed by State Parks and Recreation due to non-illuminated dangerous areas after dark, making it unsafe for pedestrians and observers on the beach,” said Mayor Connors.

Mayor Connors told her council that there is probably nothing that can be done about the rulings adding that despite a plea to the state’s congressional delegation, the city has heard nothing back. “So now, it’s pretty much up to the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce to scope out another site, possibly south of the Depoe Bay Bridge to a bluff face along the south side of the bay.” Connors said whether Depoe Bay will have July 3rd Fireworks is strictly up to the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce which runs them. She said she expects to meet with chamber officials to see if the city can be of any further assistance. She added that there has been talk of loading the fireworks onto a barge and pulling it out into the middle of the bay, but Connors said that’s not likely to happen because of the high cost.

So, we’ll see what the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce can come up with. Depoe Bay merchants have benefitted substantially over the years from beating other areas to the punch over fireworks, running them the night before on the 3rd of July. Mayor Connors and the council has made it clear that the town’s business community derives a substantial portion of their tourism income from the event. So to lose it would be a terrible loss to the town in terms of commerce.

Newport City Council creates Christmas in March for local tourist draws

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Mar 212012

After lengthy presentations by Newport’s Oregon Coast Aquarium, The Pacific Heritage and Maritime Museum and the Newport Performing Arts Center, the Newport City Council awarded tourism promotion dollars to help all three upgrade and expand their offerings.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium was awarded $250,000 toward giving visitors a more intimate and interactive experience with the Aquarium’s seals and sea lions by building better viewing areas of their habitat and daily routines. The quarter million dollars will be matched with grants and other funds the Aquarium will secure from other sources in the future, according to Aquarium officials.

The Pacific Heritage and Maritime Museum was awarded $200,000 to help them leverage other funds to move toward the grand opening of their renovated facility overlooking the Bayfront so that locals and visitors alike can appreciate the exhibits that celebrate the area’s natural history and long human dependency on the sea for sustenance and livelihood.

And finally, the council awarded $250,000 to the Newport Performing Arts Center to improve the sound system in the main theater as well as the acoustics. In addition, what is now a rehearsal space on the east side of the building will be transformed into a 150 seat black box theater for smaller scale performances. OCCA Executive Director Katherine Rickbone told the city council that they will use the quarter million to leverage other matching grants to fully complete the project.

Frank Geltner, Chair of the Lincoln County Fair Board, asked the council if it would consider other applications for tourism facility money at a later date. The council replied in the affirmative, even making a borderline commitment to add to the $300,000 that remains in the fund after Tuesday night’s awards. An advisory committee that made Tuesday night’s recommendations to the council found the Fair Board/Lincoln County application substandard in light of a lack of a firm business plan for the facility; a multipurpose event center for the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. The council Tuesday night said that they would invite the Lincoln County Fair Board to reapply for consideration of a grant award after July 1st.

Newport Bayfront merchants ask city for $75,000 for new sea lion pier

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Mar 192012

Sea Lion Dock, Newport Bayfront

Some Newport Bayfront business owners told the city council Monday that the sea lion dock on the Bayfront cannot be allowed to simply disappear or tourism will suffer along the Newport waterfront. Bayscapes Gallery and Coffee Shop owner Stan Pickens said whether intended or not, the sea lions have become a major tourist draw throughout the region and that the deterioration of the docks they carouse and sleep on is a threat to their continued easy access by tourists. Pickens told the council that the Bayfront Merchants Association has raised six thousand dollars over the recent past toward preserving the animals’ perch but have been told by the Port of Newport that to replace the docks will take upwards of $75,000. Pickens asked the city for the money. In response city councilors said they acknowledge that the sea going mammals are quite a draw for the Bayfront but that the property belongs to the port and that the original intent on those docks was to provide easy access to the Bayfront by transient boaters who moored across the bay at the South Beach Marina. However, the access never caught on and eventually the sea lions took over.

Pickens said the Port of Newport does not appear to be willing to fund new docks for the sea lions, so it’s imperative that the council help preserve one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Bayfront.

Reactions were mixed, with councilor Jeff Bertuleit suggesting fundraising among Bayfront business owners. Councilor David Allen suggested that the merchants apply for a grant from the city’s tourism facilities fund which currently has a million dollars in it, although three major tourism institutions may have three-quarters of it nailed down. Pickens was told that an application for funding would be welcomed and that the city council may consider adding to the fund with more hotel/motel room tax dollars. Allen said the issue may arise in the upcoming city budget process for next fiscal year.

Despite wind and snow, Spring Break is upon us…

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Mar 182012

Courtesy photo

Spring Break Highlights in Newport: Whales, Lighthouses, Special Events
Provided by Newport Area Chamber of Commerce

(Newport, Oregon) – Spring Break on the central Oregon coast is a fun-filled variety of things to do and see in the natural world. The area hosts more Whale Watch Week vantage points than any other on the coast, the Hatfield Marine Science Center and Oregon Coast Aquarium put on quite a show, and the outdoors promises unending fun for all ages with crabbing, fishing, lighthouses and more.

Spring Whale Watch Week. From March 24 to 31, volunteers will be out in full force to help you spot whales meandering past. They will be at 26 high vantage points along the Oregon coast – but seven of those are in the Newport area. Just north of Newport, in the Depoe Bay area, there are Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint, Whale Watching Center at the Depoe Bay Sea Wall and Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint. Just outside of Newport are Cape Foulweather and the Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area. Within Newport are Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and Don Davis City Park in Nye Beach. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

March 26. Fantastic Floaters. If you’ve ever wondered how tiny organisms get around in that massive ocean, the Hatfield Marine Science is helping you explore these mysterious wanderers. They will collect plankton using nets, examine them under a microscope and try to find out what they will become as adults. Learn how plankton adaptations help them sink or swim, then design and create your own plankton model to race against other families. Pre-registration is recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. 1 – 3 p.m. Cost: $7.50 per person. Hatfield Marine Science Center. 2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon. (541) 867-0233.

March 30. Estuary Investigations. Spend time exploring the different zones of the Yaquina Bay estuary and the unique organisms found there. You’ll discover awe-inspiring things about current research and use sampling equipment to collect animals and investigate their unique adaptations to life in the mud. Boots and raingear recommended. Pre-registration is recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. 1 – 3 p.m. Cost: $7.50 per person. Hatfield Marine Science Center. 2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon. (541) 867-0233.

March 31. SOLV Annual Spring Beach Cleanup on Oregon Coast. Oregonians from all over the state will be hitting the coastline to help scour the beaches of tons of litter and ocean debris. There are various meeting spots in Newport, including Agate Beach, Nye Beach and Beverly Beach. Register online. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 800-333-SOLV.

Oregon Coast Aquarium hosts a large variety of events for children, especially some of the younger ones. See their full schedule at 2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd. Newport, Oregon. 541-867-3474 x 5224.

Ongoing activities in Newport include two lighthouses which you can tour, the scenic wonders of Yaquina Head, and crabbing and fishing in both the Yaquina Bay and in the ocean via a variety of charter businesses.

For more information, see 800-262-7844

Lincoln City Council “drilling down” to find accountability from it’s million dollar “plus” tourism promotion budget

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Mar 062012

Lincoln City City Council and Visitors and Convention Committee

At a joint session of the Lincoln City City Council and the Visitors and Convention Bureau Committee, Mayor Dick Anderson said Tuesday that the department’s more than one million dollar budget appears to be getting the job done at boosting Lincoln City’s local economy, but he wondered if it couldn’t operate even more effectively if VCB staff could link dollars spent with measurable benefits among the town’s tourist businesses like hotels, motels and restaurants.

VCB Director Sandy Pfaff told the gathering that drawing direct lines between ad dollars spent and economic benefits produced is as much art as science. She said that they can track tourism activity through the amount of hotel/motel room taxes that are collected but added that the city’s lodging industry has been discounting their rates lately due to the recession, so total dollar amounts per quarter don’t compare well with pre-recession figures. However, Pfaff said, they do count cars, and use certain multiplier figures (day trippers versus over-nighters) to get a sense of the drawing power of various events. They also tally ticket sales, but for things like the Kite Festival and July 4th Fireworks and other “drop in” events, it’s much harder to say, with absolute certainty, that “this number of visitors were here due to this amount of advertising.”

It was pretty much agreed around the table that the best way to clarify the effectiveness of various events or attractions is to get a detailed compilation of how many visitors rented hotel and motel rooms over a specific period of time. Right now, those numbers are a closely guarded secret as proprietary information. Mayor Anderson and City Manager David Hawker said to get those numbers would take a vote of confidence by the lodging industry that the numbers would be used strictly for tourism effectiveness purposes and that the numbers would never be used except for that purpose.

Other suggestions to pump up Lincoln City’s tourism surround Devil’s Lake, like kayak and sailing races. Others called for better coordination of special events so they don’t collide with each other on the calendar. But Pfaff surprised the group by saying that Lincoln City probably needs fewer events but more attractions. Debate followed about whether those attractions should be provided by the public or private sectors. Pfaff also pointed out that articles written in travel magazines and in travel sections of newspapers and on TV are often more effective than standard event advertising.

In the end what seemed to stick with everyone was the idea of fewer events in favor of more attractions, getting actual hotel/motel occupancy rates (with protections for proprietary information), and heavier advertising emphasis on electronic media associated with Facebook, Twitter and tourism-driven websites. Each city councilor said they are in general agreement. They also agreed that they want to review more tourism information provided by Pfaff and to meet again soon to further engage in developing tourism promotion strategies to complement what Pfaff and City Manager David Hawker think are smart promotions to attract more visitors to Lincoln City.

Newport helps local non-profits; postpones big tourism outlays for later in the month

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Mar 052012

Newport City Council
Monday night

Newport City Councilors Monday night offered a financial helping hand to a number of local non-profits, some of whom may use city grants to leverage their applications for even bigger grants from other agencies or larger foundations.

Agencies winning a share of the ten thousand dollars was the Newport Food Pantry at $1,600 for water and sewer hook-ups for their facility near the First Presbyterian Church on NE 12th. Lincoln County Children’s Advocacy Center was given $1,000, Habitat for Humanity was awarded $1,000, Samaritan House was gifted $3,000, Progressive Options was given $1,800, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) received $1,600.

Meanwhile, the council balked at awarding upwards of $700,000 to split between three well known tourism operations in Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, The Marine Museum and Heritage Center, and the Newport Performing Arts Center. City Councilor David Allen indicated he wanted more time to fully review the notes and information from the citizens task force that reviewed and closely examined proposals from five local groups that applied for funding and who recommended the aforementioned agencies. The council set a follow up meeting for March 20th, 6pm, at City Hall to make up its mind.

At the moment, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is recommended by the task force to receive $250,000, out of the million dollars available, for upgrading their seal and sea lion exhibit, the Maritime Museum is favored to receive $200,000 to help them finish their facility and finally open above the Bayfront, and the Newport Performing Arts Center for a bit of remodeling that would see a small black box theater be created out of what is now a rehearsal studio on the east side of the building. The project would involve a push out into the parking area so revamping traffic circulation and parking would also be required.

Two other projects, the Lincoln County Fair Multipurpose Pavilion ($1 million) and the Oregon Coast Aquatic Park ($650,000) were judged by the task force as being not ready for serious consideration in that neither had business or finished construction plans for their projects.

Should the tentatively approved projects be given the city council’s blessing, the funds would be issued only when determined by the city that the projects are ready to move ahead. Each has a different time line and there is the likelihood that one or all will be using those city room tax funds to leverage much larger grants from other funding sources.

It was noted by councilors Jeff Bertuleit and Lon Brusselback that after these awards are made, it will still leave $300,000 in the fund and that it might be a good idea to augment that amount, with additional room tax dollars, to build other facilities that would make coming to Newport all the more attractive. Councilor Berteleit is on the Board of Directors of the much heralded but not-yet-funded Oregon Coast Aquatic Park.

Heceta Lighthouse grounds improvements: Quite a change…

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Sep 302011

Haceta Lighthouse area, before and after
Click to enlarge photos

The visitors area to the Heceta Lighthouse on Highway 101 north of Florence is no longer as bumpy as the ocean it overlooks. A complete rebuild is now in place and open for visitors. The $340,000 in improvements included the parking area as well as the trail leading to the lighthouse.

The picturesque park is well known for it’s famous lighthouse, beach and historic Lighthouse Keeper’s Bed and Breakfast Inn. The park welcomes nearly a million visitors a year.

Meanwhile, work continues on a facelift to the lighthouse itself. The work will take until late 2013.

More green than just trees in Oregon National Forests

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Sep 032011

Mount Hood
Photo courtesy: USFS

The U.S. Forest Service has just completed a detailed survey of who visits our national forests in Oregon and how many. It also seeks to stick a tourist dollar value on those visitors and how they add to the state’s economy. The USFS survey shows that there really is a lot of green in our forests. The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.