BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Visitors Association (COVA) will move from its shared space with Economic Development Office (EDCO) in Bend, into a new facility in Sunriver. COVA CEO Alana Hughson says Bend's tourism needs are already being met by agencies like Visit Bend and the Chamber of Commerce. "COVA's intention is that destination visitors - we know they're not stayin gin a single location, whether that be Sunriver or Bend or Redmond or Sisters or any of the communities - They're moving throughout the region." She adds, "We need to get that regional visitor information to the visitor where they're located."
Sunriver hosts the largest number of overnight visitors per-capita than anywhere else in the High Desert. However, after the announcement, critics expressed concerns over special treatment for the Sunriver Resort, possibly at the expense of other areas. Jodie Barram is running for the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners and said, "I thought they were well suited to be in with Economic Development of Central Oregon, they shared an office space here in Bend." Barram did acknowledge Sunriver's contributions to COVA's funding and promotional efforts.
Her opponent, incumbent Tony DeBone, says the move is already gaining support, "The other destination resorts are being represented by COVA, all the rural destination resorts in the county. The board members support it. We're going to have more of a visitors' front end in the Village at Sunriver."
Hughson says COVA will continue to be a regional resource, working to promote all of Central Oregon, "From the operations perspective of how COVA delivers our strategic marketing programs, it's really not relevant where our office is based. So, for reasons of efficiency and economy, it makes sense to have our operations located in the [Sunriver] visitors information center."
COVA hopes to be fully moved into the new Sunriver location before Christmas, to take advantage of the large number of visitors expected during the holiday season.