With No One Traveling, County Tourism Office Forced to Make Massive Cuts, Layoffs

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the tourism industry, with most businesses, parks and other places that would appeal to travelers either being ordered to close or, in the case of communities on the Oregon coast, Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs, and it happened this week.

The office, which brands itself as Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, announced Friday that it would be undergoing a reorganization that would include dramatic budget cuts and staffing reductions — as the travel that funds the program has ground to a standstill.

Serving as the tourism marketing arm of Clackamas County, the office is funded by a voter-approved 6 percent lodging tax on all hotels, motels, campgrounds and vacation rentals in the county.

The department forecasts a 75 percent budget cut, which would include a reduction from about a dozen staff members to two, effective May 1. The office will also be folded into the county administration department “until the economic recovery and lodging tax receipts can support it as a standalone department,” a press release from the county said.

“This new structure has been crafted to ensure we are in the best position possible to be a driving force behind the industry’s recovery when restrictions are lifted,” Samara Phelps, executive director of the tourism office said. “Tourism has seen some of the heaviest impacts. We needed to adjust so we can do more with less when bringing visitors back to the county.”

The structural changes were made through collaboration with the Tourism Development Council’s executive committee and county leadership.

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