The Gorge Tourism Studio focused on communities in Oregon and Washington within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and those surrounding Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.
The Gorge Tourism Studio was developed in response to the communities’ desire to stimulate their local economies through sustainable tourism development while protecting and enhancing local resources.
Gorge Tourism Studio highlights:
275 local tourism stakeholders and residents participated in six workshops between January and April 2016. Workshop topics included Culinary and Agritourism Development, Cultural Heritage Tourism Development, Adventure Travel and Outdoor Recreation Development, Tourism Marketing and Action Planning. Workshop notes, presentations, outreach materials and other resources are available on the Gorge Tourism Studio Resources page.
Travel Oregon awarded the Gorge Tourism Studio communities a $20,000 Tourism Studio Matching Grant in 2016 to implement projects related to outdoor recreation, heritage tourism and local tourism ambassador development.
Gorge Tourism Studio attendees raised $24,000 to fund University of Oregon Resource Assistance for Rural Environments positions in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Travel Oregon published a report summarizing the Gorge Tourism Studio’s community’s efforts in August 2017.
“We have generated great momentum and brought together a diverse and committed alliance invested in the strength of our collective voice.”
— Casey Roeder, President of the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association
Results of Phase One Action Team Implementation
The Gorge Tourism Studio resulted an increase in bi-state collaboration to shape the future of a growing tourism economy in the Columbia River Gorge.
Attendees of the Gorge Tourism Studio identified sustainable tourism as a priority impact area for the destination, which has seen an increase in visitation in recent years.
Key project highlights include:
Creating a plan to highlight world-class outdoor recreation, culinary and agritourism and cultural heritage
Identifying problems caused by seasonal congestion and transportation
Drafting a Statement of Intent to guide the region’s strategy and development
Forming a local tourism alliance to carry out priority projects
“I’ve seen a lot of public planning processes on the local, state and federal levels, and this is one of the better ones for the people who are participating to engage, interact, create and own, and then implement! Very effective.”
— Kevin Gorman, Friends of the Columbia Gorge
Action Team Projects
Attendees of the Gorge Tourism Studio developed several action teams to spearhead priority projects.
The Cultural Heritage Action Team created a podcast series to bring visitors closer to the human and natural history of the Gorge.
The Gorge Outdoor Recreation Action Team created a video of the Gorge Towns to Trails project to garner more public, government and agency support.
The Marketing Action Team trained local front-line staff to provide consistent messaging for visitors across the region.
The Car-free Transportation Action Team supported existing initiatives and coordinated new shuttle service between Portland, the Gorge and Mt. Hood.
“[The tourism studio] is moving a lot of things forward that I believe have been on people’s minds for a long time. But now that a group has formed it seems possible, which has given everyone forward momentum.”
— Sofia Urrita-Lopez, Cascade Locks Tourism Affect
Finish the Mitchell Tunnel segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway ($33 million)
Expand transit from Gateway to Hood River ($2.2 million)
Complete a congestion mitigation study from Troutdale to Ainsworth State Park ($400,000)
Fund transit from Hood River to Government Camp ($928,000)
Dedicating Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail segment
Dedicating a waterfront park in Camus-Washougal
Creating the Gorge Food Security Alliance
Supporting Senate Bills in 2016 aimed at improving tribal housing and fishing access sites in the Gorge
Forming of the Historic Columbia River Highway Bingo campaign by Friends of the Columbia Gorge
Developing Cascade Locks Tourism vision and strategic plan
Destination Management Studio
Workshops for communities that already have strong tourism demand and may be vulnerable to unintended negative impacts of high visitation
Travel Oregon offers the Destination Management Studio for local areas or regions managing high visitation and experiencing challenges with congestion, transportation, affordable housing and/or land management.