The Importance of Tourism in Oregon
Tourism plays an enormous role in the Oregon economy. Roughly 29.4 million overnight visitors traveled to Oregon destinations in 2019 alone—all of which supported an industry that employs 117,500 Oregonians.
Direct tourism spending is estimated at $1.7 billion per year; 27% of that total comes from day visitors, while the remaining 73% is from overnight visitors. To capture that impact, Dean Runyan Associates conducted a study that looked at Oregon travel between 1991 and 2019. That study is available to view, both as a PDF and as an interactive dashboard. We invite you to see how tourism has grown—both in the Willamette Valley and throughout Oregon—to better understand and appreciate the vital role of the growing industry. The main visitation season is summer, with spring and fall being our shoulder seasons. However, we are seeing, especially for more eastern areas, the season being condensed due to fire in August and September.
Regional Cooperative Tourism Program
In 2016, Oregon lawmakers passed HB 4146. The new law increased the statewide lodging tax from 1% to 1.8% between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2020 (before reverting to—and remaining at—1.5% after July 1, 2020). The legislation also dictated that the tax increases would be used to fund state tourism programs, competitive grant programs, and the Regional Cooperative Tourism Program (RCTP).
The RCTP designated seven Regional Destination Management Organizations (RDMOs) across the state that work on promoting and developing Oregon’s seven tourism regions.
The Willamette Valley Visitors Association has been designated the RDMO for the Willamette Valley on a six-year term, running 2019-2024, with 3 biennial work plans in that period.
Willamette Valley Visitors Association: Serving Seven Counties
The Willamette Valley Visitors Association (WVVA) is a nonprofit organization that:
- Serves as the regional DMO for the Willamette Valley;
- Works to drive visitor expenditures and economic impact to all parts of the region;
- Identifies needs and develops resources to promote responsible tourism by reducing social and economic inequalities; and
- Advocating for diverse and inclusive visitor experiences.
WVVA is a contractor of Travel Oregon and is funded through the transient lodging tax program based on House Bill 4146. Thus, funding to WVVA is legislatively dictated and defined by Travel Oregon through the Regional Cooperative Tourism Program (RCTP). WVVA is one of seven regional DMOs in Oregon that is part of the RCTP.
The Willamette Valley Visitors Association’s Regional Cooperative Tourism Program (RCTP) plan has been approved by Travel Oregon and is underway. Thank you to all of the Willamette Valley stakeholders who participated in surveys and in-person gatherings to share your thoughts and creativity for this plan.
To view the Willamette Valley Visitor Association’s RCTP Plan and Budget please refer to the statewide plan and click on “Willamette Valley”
Past RTCP plans
- View the Willamette Valley Visitor Association’s 2019-2021 RTCP Plan (PDF)
- View the Willamette Valley Visitor Association’s 2017-2019 RTCP Plan
Oregon’s Transient Lodging/Occupancy Tax Structure
At a local level, millions of dollars in lodging taxes are collected annually to support local governments, tourism facilities, and tourism promotion; in 2018, for instance, these transient lodging taxes (TLT) generated more than $200 million to help local communities improve infrastructure, promote small businesses, put on events, and boost recreation opportunities. These dollars are essential to strengthening our local Willamette Valley economies.
For more information on TLTs—what they do, how they help local communities, and what that looks like in practice—read this 2019 study from Travel Oregon on how communities are using tax dollars generated by TLTs.
Our friends at the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association created this video that breaks down TLT/TOT taxes to make this subject more digestible