The Importance of Tourism in Oregon

Tourism plays an enormous role in the Oregon economy. For instance, roughly 29.4 million overnight visitors traveled to Oregon destinations in 2019 alone—all of which supported an industry that employs 117,500 Oregonians.

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 look at how tourism has grown—both in the Willamette Valley and throughout Oregon—to better understand and appreciate the vital role of the growing industry.

Explaining the Regional Cooperative Tourism Program

In 2016, Oregon lawmakers passed HB 4146. Among other things, 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 brand-new RCTP designated seven Regional Destination Management Organizations (RDMOs) across the state that work on promoting and developing Oregon’s seven tourism regions

Willamette Valley Visitors Association: Serving Seven Counties

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. Our region spans Newberg and Wilsonville in the north to Cottage Grove in the south—while rising to the crest of both the Coast Range to the west and the Cascades to the east. Counties represented in this area include southwest Clackamas, Yamhill, Marion, Polk, Linn, Benton and east Lane counties. 

Each RDMO plans its budget on a biennium. The Willamette Valley Visitors Association’s 2019-2021 RCTP plan and budget can be found below—along with the programming we’re investing in, and the status of each effort.

2019-2021 RCTP Plan & Budget

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.

View the Willamette Valley Visitor Association’s RCTP Plan and Budget Dashboard
View the Willamette Valley Visitor Association’s 2019-2021 RCTP Plan (PDF)
View the Willamette Valley Visitor Association’s 2017-2019 Budget Dashboard to learn about our successes
Learn more about the Willamette Valley’s Tourism Plan

Explaining 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: