BEND, OR -- With nearly a quarter million visitors hosted during the eclipse, some might think the summer season will be over early for Central Oregon. But, Alana Hughson of the Central Oregon Visitors Association says the numbers indicate quite the opposite. "What we're able to determine anecdotally is, yes, this is going to be another strong summer. At least on-pace, if not slightly up from the prior summer. And last summer was a record-breaking summer, so even if we're on pace with last summer we're doing well."
Hughson tells KBND News the results were unexpected, but she knows it's because Central Oregon is a return destination for so many, and the numbers seem to indicate the tourists expected during Labor Day are the "regulars" we normally get, arriving just a little later to the party, and wanting to take advantage of the unique experiences we provide for our visitors. "A lot of families, typically within Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, have their annual family vacation in Central Oregon, and with the news of the impact of the volumes of people in and around the eclipse, it's dispersed some of those people who would've traveled this week in August, pushed them later, which is great news for the Labor Day weekend, so we project it's going to be a good, solid finish to the summer."
This season, COVA and Visit Bend introduced the "Visit Like A Local" campaign with tips for tourists who want to know what it's like to live in Central Oregon. "Visit Bend's strategy is to invite people to 'Visit Like A Local,' and that means, 'Come, and experience the authentic Central Oregon that those of us who live here actively enjoy, and help us be stewards of this destination and this product and have a great time while you're here on vacation'."
During the summer season, Hughson says the best thing for locals to do is simply be prepared; everything takes longer when we have visitors here, but at least we get to live the dream, not just visit it.