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Travel Lane County Visitor Industry Update

Travel Lane County Announces Samara Phelps as President/CEO 

Travel Lane County is pleased to announce Samara Phelps as the organization's new President & CEO. Samara will join Travel Lane County in mid-September and have an opportunity to work alongside retiring President & CEO Kari Westlund before her departure this fall. 

Samara Phelps Waterfall cropped

Samara grew up in Eugene and began her career in the visitor industry working for Travel Lane County where she gained experience as a Visitor Services Coordinator, Director of Visitor Services and Director of Stakeholder Relations between 2007-2015. In 2015, she joined Clackamas County Tourism and in 2019 was named Executive Director of Clackamas County Tourism which is the destination marketing and management organization promoting the Mount Hood Territory region. She also gained valuable experience in managing a regional destination management organization (RDMO) by leading the Mt. Hood & the Columbia River Gorge RDMO.

Samara attended the University of Oregon where she attained a Bachelor of Arts in General Science with a minor in Business Administration. She holds a VisitAble Disability Inclusion Certificate and is a graduate of both the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy and the Chinook Institute for Civic Leadership. She has been active within her community and serves as the President of Nearby Nature here in Eugene, the Willamette Valley Visitors Association (WVVA) board, and is Chair of the Oregon Destinations Association board. 

Samara commented in her interview, "I have two motivators that drive my passion for this work. One is stewardship for the place, people and partners of the destination. The second is developing, empowering and supporting individuals to create a team aligned with a mission, vision and strategy. Weaving together these two motivators makes the work engaging, meaningful and creative."

Board Chair Dana Turell noted, the Travel Lane County Board succession planning committee was pleased to see nationwide interest in the President & CEO position. More than 40 applications were received and four candidates were interviewed. It was the committee's intention to move the top candidates to second interviews, however the committee was so impressed by Samara's background, her vision for our region and her passion for the industry that a recommendation was immediately sent to and approved by the full board."

FY25 Marketing Plan Cover

FY25 Budget and Work Plan Approved

The Travel Lane Count board of directors approved the organizations fiscal year 2025 budget and marketing plan at their June meeting. Budgeted expenses of $4.2 million is up 4.4% over the FY24 budget. The FY25 Marketing Plan provides strategies, objectives and key performance indicators for each department and a summary of the organization's strategic plan is included. 

road cycling in springtime

Aufderheide Drive Proposed as Oregon's Newest Scenic Bikeway

Residents along the McKenzie River are invited to a public meeting on July 19th at 5:30 p.m. to learn about the possibility of designating Aufderheide Drive (National Forest Road 19) as an Oregon Scenic Bikeway. The meeting will be held at the Upper McKenzie Community Center, located at 54745 McKenzie River Drive.

The Oregon Scenic Bikeway program, established in 2009 by Oregon Parks and Recreation, markets and promotes cycling routes that offer cyclists a unique and enjoyable experience. Proposed routes are nominated by local groups and are reviewed and approved by the Oregon Scenic Bikeway Committee. Travel Lane County is the lead proponent on the project and is joined by groups that include the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce, cycling enthusiasts, area businesses and other supporters. The Aufderheide Drive is recognized for its spectacular views of mountains, lakes, waterfalls, creeks and rivers. The designation could further attract visitors, boost local businesses and encourage everyone to explore the outdoors by bike.

Meeting attendees can expect to learn about the criteria for scenic bikeway designation, hear about plans to market the route, ask questions and provide feedback. Sign up to attend.  For more information, please contact Connor Nolan, Travel Lane County Destination Development Manager at

Making Cycling Safer in Oregon

Senate Bill 895 went into effect on January 1, 2024 and the Oregon Department of Transportation has released an educational video to help vehicle operators understand what the new law requires. Road cycling in Oregon generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact and we want to continue to build on this success. Aggressive driving can be a huge deterrent to cyclists feeling safe and that's where proponents of SB895 stepped in to lobby for stricter regulations. Regulations that will provide for safer and more comfortable experiences for cyclists. Printed collateral materials should be available later this summer, but this short video (English version & Spanish version) will begin helping educate the driving public. 

Member News

2024_25 Guides

New Visitor Guides/Maps Available

The 2024/45 visitor guide and pad maps are available for members to pick up at the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Visitor Center between 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Visitor Center is located at 754 Olive Street. If you are located in one of our rural communities, staff have been distributing as we visit your community. Please let us know if this works better for you and we will arrange a time to drop supplies off.  

Eugene Symphony Narrows List of Music Director Candidates

The search for the Eugene Symphony's next Music Director & Conductor started with 177 candidates. Now there are five. See each of them in action as they conduct programs that envelope a Beethoven Piano Concerto next season. Click here to learn more about the candidates.

Josh Neckels Joins Travel Lane County Board

Josh Neckels, Executive Director of the Eugene Ballet, has joined the Travel Lane County Board of Directors. Travel Lane County's governing board represents a variety of businesses, community organizations and government entities across Lane County. Board members' responsibilities include approving the annual marketing plan and budget, and providing input and policy direction.

Iris Vineyards Named Oregon Winery of the Year

Congratulations to Iris Vineyards for being named Oregon Winery of the Year by Great Northwest Wine. Taste their award-winning wines at the Iris Wine Bar located at 322 Main Street in Springfield.

Governor Appoints New Member to Oregon Tourism Commission

Governor Tina Kotek appointed a new member to the Oregon Tourism Commission (dba Travel Oregon). Jenifer Roe, owner and operator of Roe Outfitters and Crater Lake Zipline, joined the commission on June 1. 

Mereté Hotel Management's Michael Roussel Honored

Marriott International awarded Michael Roussel, Assistant General Manager, Residence Inn, Eugene the prestigious Operations Manager of the Year Award for the Residence Inn brand. This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to guest satisfaction, outstanding service, and a dedication to upholding the highest standards of hospitality. Michael Roussel was chosen from nominations across all Marriott's Residence Inn brand locations, more than 850 worldwide. Congratulations Michael!

Inclusion & Diversity

Everyone Deserves Better Hearing

An informational event is planned for Tuesday, July 9 from 6-8 p.m. at The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts located at 868 High Street in Eugene. This event is designed to help people understand the possible benefits that cochlear implants may offer to people with severe hearing loss. The event sponsor is Advanced Bionics, one of three cochlear implant manufacturers. Guest speakers include several people who have cochlear implants. Click here to sign up for this free event.

Charitable Fund Banner

The Travel Lane County Charitable Fund is an inclusive public benefit nonprofit organization organized and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. By donating to the Fund, you will help bring projects to life that will have a lasting positive impact on our community as a place to live and visit for years to come.

Click here to give to the Fund! 

Emerald Valley Pickleball Foundation Fundraiser Tickets are now on sale for our Foundation's fundraising dinner on August 8 at the LCC campus! This will be a great evening in support of the Regional Pickleball Complex, including exciting silent and live auction items, and other fun ways to contribute to the fundraising effort. Register here.

Visioning Group to Assist in Events Center Master Plan Development

The Lane County Board of Commissioners heard an Event Center Master Plan update from Events Center Manager Corey Buller during their June 11 work session. 

A request for proposal (RFP), to select a consultant to help organize and lead the process, will be the first step. It is anticipated that responses will be due in July. The consulting team will be responsible for project initiation, project development, community engagement, developing concepts and refining those concepts. A compilation of this work will be summarized in a set of recommendations and presented to the Fair Board and Board of Commissioners.

The Visioning Group/committee may include elected officials and stakeholders such as: Commissioners, Fair Board, Travel Lane County, The Rink Exchange/hockey representative, major clients like the Oregon Logging Conference, Home Shows, Holiday Market etc. - along with community stakeholders like Webfoot Volleyball, Kidsports, Eugene Chamber of Commerce, City of Eugene and 4H/FFA. Events Center staff will work with the consultant to finalize the committee makeup later this summer.

Grant Awards & Grant Opportunities

Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries (OCHC) has awarded $60,556 in grants to 11 historic cemetery projects throughout the state through the Historic Cemeteries Grant program. The funds will help support preservation efforts, tree care and access. Luper Cemetery, located on Beacon Drive in Eugene, was awarded funds to repair monuments and host a market cleaning workshop. 

The Oregon Heritage Commission has awarded $75,031 in grants to 15 museums throughout the state as part of the Oregon Museum Grant program.  Purchase and organize appropriate storage containers for textile collection pieces at the Shelton McMurphy Johnson House in Eugene.

With funding provided through sales of the Oregon Wine Country license plate, Travel Oregon administers a program to make grant awards available to tourism promotion agencies for projects that promote wine and/or culinary tourism. There will be $540,000 made available for an upcoming funding cycle, applicants may apply for grants of up to $50,000 per project and may apply for no more than two projects in the same cycle. Each project requires its own application. Applicants must demonstrate a 1-to-1 match with at least 50% of matching funds being cash. Learn more about matching requirements, types of projects funded and timelines here.

Onward Eugene Launches

Onward Eugene, in collaboration with regional stakeholders, has completed another phase of development to a new website that centralizes essential information for businesses and talent considering relocating to the Eugene-Springfield area. This initiative, supported by Lane County, the City of Eugene, City of Springfield, Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and Travel Lane County, offers a comprehensive resource for exploring what our region has to offer.

The creation of this site,, highlights the power of collaboration. It serves as a testament to what can be achieved when communities work together. From Oakridge to Florence, Cottage Grove to Junction City, and our very own Eugene-Springfield right in the middle of it all, Lane County boasts a wealth of opportunities for businesses and professionals alike. This platform makes it easier than ever to discover why our region is an ideal place to live and work.

Travel Lane County
754 Olive Street, Eugene, OR 97401

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