New Director Steps in for Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office

There is someone new at the helm of the Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs office.

Samara Phelps has been announced as the new head of the department, tasked with enhancing and promoting Clackamas County tourism assets under the brand, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory.

Phelps will replace Danielle Cowan, who is retiring after 9 years in the position.

The county performed a nationwide recruitment for the position, with candidates going through multiple interviews with administration and the Tourism Development Council, the nine-member volunteer board that oversees the work of the tourism department.

County Administrator Gary Schmidt says Phelps is an “exceptional leader, who brings a wealth of experience in tourism, destination marketing organizations and nonprofit leadership. She rose to the top of a very competitive national recruitment for this position. She will continue the accomplished legacy of success of Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs and I look forward to working with her in the years ahead.”

Tourism Development Council Chair Jody Carson said she is excited, because the tourism industry is no longer about just good marketing. You also have to understand development and management. Phelps gets this, Carson said.

Phelps has more than a dozen years of experience in the tourism industry. She got her start managing the visitor services program at Travel Lane County, where she later served as Community & Stakeholders Relations Manager.

She made the transition to Clackamas County in 2015, where she took over as Destination Development Lead. In that role, she worked closely with partners throughout the county to strengthen communities through the creation and improvement of tourism products, and the creation and implementation of strategic plans.

“I’m excited to take on the opportunity to lead this organization into the next chapter,” Phelps said. “We are a high-performing team at the leading edge of the industry. There’s a lot of changes happening in tourism right now that affect how organizations like ours do business. We’re up for the challenge and continuing to lead the way to continue to strengthen Clackamas County’s economy through tourism.”

Phelps will officially start in the new role on August 1. Cowan will continue to serve on a limited, part-time basis, representing the county’s interests with outside organizations.

Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs is funded by the voter-approved transient room tax at lodging properties throughout the county.

Visitors spent more than $600 million in Clackamas County in 2018 according to an economic impact study. That same study showed that travel spending supported more than 6,700 jobs in the county during that same year.

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