Tourist season seems better than expected

August 11, 2010 05:00 am

The “campground full” signs were out again last weekend for both Harris Beach and Loeb state parks. The Festival of the Arts crowds reportedly were bigger than ever. A downtown gift shop owner tells us that he is noticing lots of return-visit customers. We reprinted handout menus for a customer this week. The tourist traffic on Highway 101 added 30 minutes to the drive from Coos Bay to Brookings on Sunday afternoon. We have restocked our popular Wild Rivers Coast Vacation Guides at visitor centers several times over this summer.

Thought none of this is solid evidence, it does seem that visitor traffic is healthier than we could have expected this summer along the Wild Rivers Coast. What has made the difference? Probably a combination of several things. 

While we complain about the summer cloud cover, Rogue Valley residents are coming to the coast to cool off. They have long been the bulk of our visitor traffic.

Our marketing brand – America’s Wild Rivers Coast – is helping create a destination in the tourism marketplace. Building on that Wild Rivers Coast brand, the Hospitality 101 effort is improving our level of customer service. More of us understand how to deliver an experience that brings visitors back time and again.

A bicycle ride along the Southern Oregon Coast was featured last summer on the front page of the travel section of the Sunday New York Times. It was invaluable marketing.

For the first time in years, we have a summer-long recreational salmon season. That predictability lets fishermen and their families plan their vacations on their schedule.

We’re not saying that every day is great for every business at every level, but we do think that a combination of factors has made this a better summer than we could have expected with current gas prices and general economic conditions.