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Travel Lane County Visitor Industry Update

Search Begins for New President/CEO

The Travel Lane County Board of Directors developed a succession plan for the coming retirement of current President and CEO Kari Westlund and this week the plan goes into action with the posting of the position.

Westlund, who has been at the helm of the organization for the past 28 years, noted, "Serving as CEO of Travel Lane County for nearly 28 years has been a great privilege. Today, we are formally opening the position and accepting applications from prospective candidates for the next CEO, and interested persons are encouraged to learn more and apply at  Applications will be reviewed by a board committee overseeing the hiring process. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for late May. Interested candidates are encouraged to submit before the end of April. I am under contract through October, and the actual transition date will depend upon the successful candidate’s availability to start once a formal offer has been tendered and accepted.

I want to express deep appreciation for our shared destination, the interest and support of so many stakeholders, and especially for the outstanding professional staff team and engaged board of directors at Travel Lane County. Close to three decades flew by in a flash. While we accomplished many successes, much remains to be done and the next CEO comes into a strong situation with a lot of opportunities to make a positive difference in meeting the mission of growing overnight visitors for a vibrant, year-round, countywide economy.

Should you be intrigued by the idea of serving as Travel Lane County’s CEO, I welcome questions and calls and encourage interested prospects to think deeply about this extraordinary opportunity. It may be a long time before it is available again!"

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Industry Summit Features Molly Alexander

The 2024 Visitor Industry Summit takes place ahead of the Industry Celebration luncheon on May 17 beginning with a keynote address by Molly Alexander, founder of ITP (Imagine the Possibilities) Consulting. Molly will dive deeply into her work around "Return on Emotion" as she leads breakout sessions following the keynote.

For over three decades, Molly Alexander has enjoyed a successful career focused on downtown revitalization and economic development, including enterprises in both the public and private sectors.  For the past 20 years Molly worked for the Downtown Austin Alliance as the Executive Vice President of Economic Development and most recently as the Executive Director of the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation helping to shepherd a new era of downtown revitalization in Austin, Texas. Two additional breakout session tracks will offer education and networking opportunities throughout the morning.

Register today for the Industry Summit, the Industry Celebration lunch or both! Send questions to Megan Temple at

dark sky network screen grab

Travel Oregon Travel & Tourism Awards

Travel Southern Oregon was selected as the recipient of the Oregon Governor's Award for the development of the Oregon Outback Dark Sky Network. View the award video to learn about this 2.5 million acre dark sky sanctuary -  the largest in the world! 

The 2023 Oregon Travel and Tourism Industry Achievement Awards were presented at the 2024 Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Salem Convention Center. More than 500 tourism industry professionals gathered for the event to share learnings and align to ensure not only the delivery of exceptional visitor experiences, but that tourism improves quality of life for residents, advances equity, respects the diversity of ecosystems, cultures and places of Oregon and strengthens economic resilience for communities around the state. The 40th annual Oregon Governor's Conference on Tourism will be held in Portland. 

we are track town poster

We are TrackTown

"I'm thrilled to be part of We are TrackTown," noted Ian Dobson a track and field Olympian, race director for the Eugene Marathon and a Eugene Springfield resident. Ian is one of a group of track and field and running event organizers, who along with other enthusiasts, non-profits, and local businesses are partnering to ignite awareness and participation in a movement to embrace and bolster our rich legacy in track and field and running.

You are TrackTown by participating in local events, experiencing youth, masters and world-class meets at iconic Hayward Field, becoming a volunteer, dressing up your business with welcome information, or simply extending a warm welcome to athletes, coaches, and visitors. Eugene-Springfield's status as the heart and home of track and field and running hinges on each of us stepping up and playing our part.

Explore more about how you, your family and your friends can join the excitement by visiting Let's champion this legacy together!

"Always On" Tourism Marketing Pays Dividends

Stephen Hoshaw, Senior Director, Tourism, reported more than 4.1 million impressions to our flight and drive markets last month and more importantly the team tracked more than 29,000 clicks to key content on our website (itineraries, regional highlights and trip ideas content). 

The Tourism Marketing team was recently highlighted on the Sojern website for its work utilizing an "always on" strategy that positions the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region top-of-mind with potential visitors. Also keeping our region top-of-mind have been the release of new short-form video content. If you haven't seen "international vacation" on Instagram, you should definitely check it!

Hiking in the Cascades Westfir

Trails Funding Approved

The U.S. Congress recently approved $1.33 million for Oregon's Signature Trails, including funds for the Oakridge-Westfir Mountain Bike System. Oakridge-Westfir, also known as the Mountain Bike Capital of the Northwest, is a year-round destination revered for its epic single track. Also receiving funding was the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and the Blue Mountains Trail in the Umatilla National Forest. A big thanks to Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for their continued support of Oregon's natural areas. Learn more the work of the Oregon Trails Coalition and the Oregon Signature Trails.

For outdoor enthusiasts who wish to access the Central Cascades Wilderness, please note that the reservation system for permits opens April 2. Wilderness permits are required for overnight use within the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas from June 15 - October 15. Access the reservation system and learn more about visit these special places! 

Travel Lane County Welcomes Tara Thomas

Tara Thomas will join Travel Lane County as our Senior Director, Conventions in April. Tara has a strong background in the hospitality industry, including sales and catering experience. She has most recently been working at Skamania Lodge as the National Sales & Catering Manager.

Tara will have a short overlap with Juanita Metzler who is retiring from Travel Lane County after 16 years. Reach out to Tara at

Inclusion & Diversity

Accessible Beaches 

Seaside, Oregon recently made the SMARTERTRAVEL Website's list of 9 U.S. Beaches that Welcome Wheelchair Users. Thanks to the good work of the Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA), and partners up and down the Oregon coast, there is a growing list of accessible beaches that offer wheelchair users incredible beach experiences in Oregon. With a commitment to continue growing beach accessibility, OCVA and partners like Travel Lane County will see to it that the options available to wheelchair users continues to expand. 

David's Chair delivered an all-terrain track chair to Florence last fall. The chair allows people with mobility challenges to get closer to the surf, providing amazing experiences at no cost to the user. Huge thanks to Driftwood Shores Resort for making space available to store the chair and to the local volunteers who will assist in connecting users to the chair. Click here to reserve the chair! 

Member News

Track & Field + Running Highlighted

Travel Lane County member Oregon Family Magazine featured a track & field and running piece by Taj Barnhart Morgan, our amazing Director of Content Strategy.  Check out pages 12-13!

Liz Tate a Finalist for Leader of the Year

Congratulations Liz Tate, Area Sales Manager for Mereté Hotel Management, for being a finalist for the Eugene Chamber of Commerce's Women Business Leaders, Leader of the Year award.

Passing the Torch

Long-time member, and Travel Lane County board member, Jonnie Helfrich is passing the torch to her daughter Leah. Leah will become the 4th generation at the helm of Helfrich McKenzie Rafting. Check out their new website, which was created by Travel Lane County member Turell Group

Lane Transit District Marketing Recognized

Lane Transit District won two first place awards in the 2024 AdWheel competition. These awards  recognize the marketing and communications efforts of the members of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). LTD collaborated with Turell Group to share the stories of current and former employees to support LTD’s recruitment and retention effort.

Jazz Station Recaps Successful Year

The Jazz Station's mission is to, "...foster a vibrant local jazz scene through concerts and educational programs that encourage our community to love, study, and perform live jazz." They are a part of the rich tapestry of arts and cultural organizations that enrich our lives. Check out their annual report to see the exciting things accomplished in 2023. 

Lane Arts Council Seeks Board Members

If you have a passion for the arts—including visual, performing, literary, theater, musical, and tech/media arts—please consider joining the Lane Arts Council Board. Lane Arts Council is looking to build on cultural diversity and to be inclusive across Lane County.

Graduate Eugene Welcomes New Staff

Edina Estrada joined the Graduate Eugene team as the Sales & Catering Manager and Nina Vallin returned to the hospitality industry after five years. As a new Sales Manager, Nina's markets include Oregon state associations, corporate, non-collegiate sports, government, military, SMERF and University of Oregon.

Oakshire Plans Springfield Location

Oakshire Brewing owner Jeff Althouse has announced a new location in downtown Springfield. The new taproom will be located at 5th and Main Street. 

Spring Travel Outlook Looks Healthy

The State of the American Traveler Report notes that, "spring arrives with a healthy outlook for travel."  Future Partners provided insights into the latest travel trends, including: 

  • Nearly 60% of American travelers report they took an overnight trip in the past month – up 3.7 points from last month and a healthy 10.8 points from February 2023.
  • Americans’ excitement for travel continues to maintain the high levels we have been seeing over the last year, at 8.0 on a scale from 0-10.
  • American travelers anticipate they will take an average of 3.4 leisure trips in the next 12 months, up slightly from the average of 3.1 trips in February 2023. About 88% will take at least one leisure trip.
  • On the business travel front, 21.8% of business convention travelers expect their company’s business travel volume to increase over the next 12 months. 
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Weekly Update Sent to Your Inbox

Travel Lane County has a robust events calendar, but sometimes it's hard to remember to go to and look ahead at all the amazing things happening throughout Lane County. Well, we've got you covered with our new What's Happening email. Once a week an email will drop into your inbox and it will highlight a few events taking place in the week ahead. If you want more inspiration, just click through to the full calendar. Sign up today!

Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission

The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission assists local event organizers develop and grow their events and actively markets our region to sports planners throughout the nation. Stay abreast of Sports Commission activities by signing up for this monthly e-newsletter.

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