Tourism Restructuring Due to Funding Gaps

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Statement to the community

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us in ways no one could have envisioned. Its toll on the economy has been dramatic, with many industries — including travel and hospitality — feeling the full force of its disruption. As global travel restrictions continue, Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs, known as Mt. Hood Territory, has seen a precipitous drop in revenue from our primary funding source, the transient room tax, a voter-approved 6% lodging tax on all hotels, motels, campgrounds and vacation rentals in the county. This has created an unsustainable situation for the tourism program and has forced us to implement several structural changes.

Starting May 1, 11 of the 13 staff currently supporting Tourism will be laid off and the roles of the remaining two will be redefined. Many of the programs Tourism manages will be phased out and the department will be folded into county administration temporarily, until the economic recovery and lodging tax receipts merit and support Tourism again becoming a standalone department.

These changes were not made lightly. The Tourism Development Council worked closely with county leadership to make the necessary structural changes. The impact on staff will be immense and the loss of a dedicated and stellar team will be felt by all of us — both here at the county offices and throughout Clackamas County. Tourism grants and partnerships have supported programs, events and organizations in our community and these changes will undoubtedly have a ripple effect on our partners and stakeholders.

But these structural changes are designed to position Clackamas County Tourism to return as a strong partner in economic recovery once travel becomes safe. While our funding deficit changes how we participate today, our mission and vision remain intact — to enhance the quality of life for residents by optimizing the economic impacts of the tourism industry. Each action we take today will serve as a step forward, with the Clackamas County’s tourism program serving as a leading force to regrow and sustain a thriving economy.

As our residents, businesses and communities respond to and recover from the pandemic, our partnerships will be more important than ever. Building on strong partnerships with businesses, organizations, other governmental entities and citizens we will meet the challenges facing our industry and use the resources available to strengthen our destination. In addition to the work in Clackamas County, we will continue to serve partners throughout the Hood-Gorge region as the Regional Destination Management Organization. The Tourism Development Council and Clackamas County are united in a commitment to the future of tourism in Clackamas County. We are here to face the challenges created by the pandemic and work toward recovery with you.

Jody Carson
Tourism Development Council Chair

Gary Schmidt
Clackamas County Administrator