Rural Tourism Studio
Oregon’s visitors and residents are looking for experiences in every region—no matter how far off the beaten path. Visitors are especially interested in taking advantage of Oregon’s abundant outdoor recreational activities, natural and cultural landscapes, and food and farm experiences.
Oregon’s Rural Tourism Studio is a robust training program designed to help rural communities develop and offer high-value, authentic experiences to travelers—in a sustainable, manageable way. The Rural Tourism Studio helps strengthen Oregon’s position as a premier destination while also stimulating the local economy, protecting and enhancing local resources, and fostering community pride.
Participating communities build a team committed to tourism, often including community leaders, tourism entrepreneurs, tour operators, lodging property owners, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, restaurateurs and anyone interested in local tourism. Through a community-based workshop series, they create a shared vision and a big-picture strategy for tourism and then dive deep to create new tourism offerings in culinary and agritourism, outdoor recreation, bicycling tourism, cultural heritage tourism and more.
They leave the program with a strong team and a solid plan to advance their goals—plus ongoing coaching and the opportunity to apply for a grant up to $20,000 from Travel Oregon’s Matching Grant Program to support the implementation of priority projects.
A typical program includes the following workshop modules:
- Community Tourism Visioning & Planning
- Tourism Marketing & Communications
- Action Team Development
- Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Bicycle Tourism
- Culinary & Agritourism
- Cultural Heritage Tourism
Review an example program brochure from the Southern Oregon Coast Rural Tourism Studio program
Interested communities must be prepared to make a significant and long-term commitment to leadership and participation. The Rural Tourism Studio actively engages participating communities over the course of two years, working through three phases: Planning & Outreach (4-6 months), Community-Based Workshops (3-5 months) and Project Implementation (12-18 months). Through this work, the community gains increased leadership capacity, a shared community vision and new or enhanced connections with local and state leaders.
We ask interested communities to commit to the following:
- Organize a steering committee of 8-12 community leaders who will guide the process, own the plan and propel the work forward for the long term
- Recruit participants who represent a variety of community members—from business owners to elected officials to tourism operators—to help build the strategy
- Assemble action teams to implement priority strategies identified during the program
- Collaborate—long term—with community members, stakeholders and Travel Oregon to make the local vision a reality
- Provide meeting venues and workshop space and assist with logistics
- Participate in program evaluation
Because communities make this long-term commitment of time, thinking and perspectives, we are able to keep the monetary cost of participation low. Travel Oregon typically charges a $5-$10 per person fee for each workshop; additional fees may apply if the community adds extra modules or requests more intensive support.
Travel Oregon accepts applications to Oregon Tourism Studio programs on a rolling basis. The Rural Tourism Studio is currently offered one or two times per year and the wait time can run 12-24 months. Learn more about our application process.