Travel Lane County: Local tourism not affected by recent wildfires

This year, Westlund believes business has been pouring into Lane County because of people visiting to avoid smoke in other parts of the state.

Posted: Aug 27, 2018 9:01 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2018 8:19 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- Travel Lane County officials don't believe wildfire smoke has negatively impacted tourism in Lane County.

Kari Westlund, President and CEO of Travel Lane County, said last year, people were asking for the best routes to leave the state due to intense wildfire smoke. 

This year, Westlund believes business has been pouring into Lane County because of people visiting to avoid smoke in other parts of the state. 

According to a Travel Oregon study, the state lost $51 million in tourism revenue last year because of the smoke. 

Westlund said businesses along the McKenzie River corridor were hit the hardest. 

She said they don't have any reason to believe smoke has had a negative impact on tourism this year. 

She said if anything -- business has increased. 

"It's been almost a complete reversal," Westlund said. "Not a great scenario in either, because we don't want any part of Oregon on fire, but we really haven't seen our local tourism diminish this year. If anything, it's probably increased because some other parts of the state had some pretty significant impacts."

Westlund said even with the Terwilliger Fire burning at Cougar Reservoir, people have no reason to cancel their outdoor activities along the McKenzie River corridor because the fire is burning south of it.

Troy Potter, the owner of The Beer Stein in Downtown Eugene, said every morning he wakes up and checks air quality so he knows how to accommodate his customers. 

Potter said about 20 percent of his business comes from people who live out of town. He said business has been quiet this year, and he attributes that to wildfire smoke. 

"People ride bikes here from local hotels and things like that and so we lost a lot of that business and so not just tourists, but our regular customers who come here frequently," Potter said. "Because the smoke was so bad, it's just really unhealthy to be outside."

As for the impact the fires have on tourism, Westlund said no one knows the impact better than the business owners themselves. 

"I wouldn't want to dispute something that someone is experiencing especially if they have a sense to what the correlation is," Westlund said. "If he's feeling it and he's hearing it, then that's what's happening." 

Westlund encourages people to not cancel their travel plans based on misconceptions. 

For the latest fire alerts, air quality and traffic information, you can visit Travel Lane County's website

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 133851

Reported Deaths: 1803
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28467459
Washington18734171
Marion16247239
Clackamas11698138
Lane8353109
Jackson693085
Umatilla679368
Deschutes499936
Yamhill319045
Malheur313552
Linn311646
Polk245540
Klamath242838
Josephine174333
Benton170514
Jefferson170525
Douglas168743
Union111416
Wasco108123
Columbia104918
Lincoln99617
Hood River95421
Coos93815
Morrow93810
Clatsop6865
Crook62110
Baker5685
Tillamook3652
Curry3245
Lake2305
Grant2131
Harney1754
Wallowa963
Gilliam511
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00
Eugene
Mostly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 36°
Corvallis
Mostly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 41°
Roseburg
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 42°
North Bend
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 44°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events