A recent report on travel and tourism show Wasco County experienced an average spending growth of $5.02 million from 2014-17.
The Oregon Tourism Commission, more popularly known as Travel Oregon, recently received the report, which analyzed the success of travel and tourism industries throughout the state, from Dean Runyan Associates.
Two representatives from Travel Oregon — Director of Global Communications Linea Gagliano and industry communications content editor Jamie Porter — recently met with The Dalles Chamber of Commerce president Lisa Farquharson and Mayor Richard Mays to discuss data of the report specific to The Dalles and greater Gorge area.
The Wasco County report detailed an array of information pertaining to travel and tourism throughout Wasco County, including annual spending from travelers, earnings by employees, job numbers and tax revenue. These four illustrate some, but not all, of the core ways travel and tourism impacts the economy of Wasco County. The report listed the 2018 numbers as well as those from ’17, ’16, ’14, ’12 and ’10 for reference.
From the report, under “Direct Travel Impacts,” Wasco County experienced an average spending growth of $5.02 million from 2014-17, increasing its total from $102.2 million to $122.3 million.
The total dropped slightly, to $121.8 million, in 2018. A similar trend — significant annual improvement followed by a slight decrease in 2018 — followed for earnings, employment and tax revenue.
This was noted by Gagliano and Porter and reasoned to be due to severe wildfires in the area, primarily the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire that burned more than 50,000 acres in the Gorge over the course of three months. The damage done to the surrounding areas and the closure of popular hiking trails and recreational areas continues through 2019.
Barring additional weather events that dissuade travel and tourism, county numbers are anticipated to return to their preexisting rate of growth.
Overall, the industry saw growth from 2010 to 2018, with employment increasing by 3.4 percent, total spending increasing by 3.9 percent, total earnings increasing by 6.5 percent and total tax revenue from travel and tourism increasing by 7 percent. Notably, visitor spending by commodity saw the majority of revenue was gained from “Arts, Entertainment and Recreation” and “Food Service”, which combined for 49 percent of the gross spending in 2018.
As with the rest of the state, which the report shows is progressing well economically, Wasco County and the greater Gorge region is seeing an influx in travel and tourism activity and spending, resulting in population growth and economic opportunity.