Speech by Governor Kulongoski
- Oregon Tourism Conference
- Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski
- Lincoln City, Oregon
- April 15, 2003
Thank you for having me here in Lincoln City.
As many of you know, I love the state of Oregon. I believe that the Governor of Oregon needs to be the top salesman and cheerleader, if you will, for the state. I consider today's event a pep rally.
Our state also holds a tremendous diversity of wonders. From sandy beaches to towering mountains, deep gorges, high plains, and a mix of vegetation and animals that change with each of our climate zones, the sheer variety nature offers us culminates in a state that you could literally explore all your life. But for many people in the U.S., and around the world, Oregon is a place they know of, but have never visited.
There is so much to see here in Oregon - so much we have to share. And more importantly, so many more people to share it with. We welcome 9.5 million visitors a year, and they spend $6.1 billion dollars. But Georgia, a state of comparable size, manages to pull in $15.5 billion dollars every year. In my mind, there's room for $9.4 billion dollars of improvement.
Clearly, our tourism industry needs a shot in the arm. At this time we are considering a 1% statewide charge on lodging to invest back into the tourism industry. I don't think this is a question of "Is this a good idea?" This is an investment that will pay off. This IS a good idea. If we invest a dollar and get back five in revenue, this IS a good idea. If we can invest a dollar of advertisement and get back $114 in tourism spending, this IS a good idea. It's time we stopped selling Oregon short. It's time we started selling Oregon to the nation.
We are in a difficult economic period. And as we look for ways to re-invigorate Oregon's economy, we are aiming primarily to bring new investment to the state. I want to tell you, though, if we can't get people here to see our state, they won't invest in it. Because tourists are not just families on vacation; tourists are business owners, CEOs, Hollywood producers, international importers, and a variety of other people involved in America's economy.
When business people see our market, have a chance to get to know its advantages, they'll want to open a business here. When they experience the quality of our products first hand, they'll want to import them, and sell them around the nation and around the world. When they meet our citizens, and understand the skill of they work we do, they'll know they can hire here. When they enjoy the state and its tremendous quality of life, they'll feel comfortable relocating a business here.
But if they don't visit, if they don't see what we have to offer, Oregon might never even make their list of possibilities. Let's put Oregon in play. Let's put Oregon on the minds of captains of industry and ambitious entrepreneurs. And to do that is simple - we first get Oregon into their hearts.
Just get them to visit.
Oregon is compelling. It makes its own case. We won't have to lobby them so hard if they just experience this state.
Get them here, and Oregon sells itself. So let's get them here.
A 1% investment gives us the power to compete for the attention of domestic and world travelers. Any business owner will tell you that if you don't advertise, you won't succeed. Look at Disneyland for a moment. They have extraordinary name recognition, millions visit each year, and yet they keep advertising. Why? It pays off. Does Coca-Cola really need to sponsor sporting events on top of the massive ad campaign they already have? They do so because it is effective.
For such massive companies, they still get a return on their dollar for this additional investment. Imagine how big the return is on the first 50% of their advertising budget. Well we aren't even investing that first 50%. It's more like 20%. The average state spends $13 million dollars a year to attract tourists. We spend three. That is not an advertising budget. It's time we took care of business.
Domestic tourism is more important than ever. We have millions of Americans who want to take a vacation, and are less inclined to travel abroad than a few short years ago. They are looking for a comfortable, domestic destination. We have an opportunity to take advantage of this suddenly shifting market today.
At the same time, we are opening new doors to the world. With new, direct air service to Mexico and Germany, we have a fresh chance to introduce ourselves. And our ties to Asia remain strong, both in trade and in friendship. I see Oregon as a hub with spokes extending deep into Europe, Central America and Asia, bringing trade, tourists and ideas from literally around the world. These direct connections will mean millions of dollars for the Oregon economy, and international recognition that if you want to do business in the northwest, the place to go is Oregon. So, yes, we want foreign carriers to believe in - and invest in - Oregon. We can raise Oregon's stature on the world stage, as well as at home.
I have spoken before on the concept of "Brand Oregon." Simply put, "Brand Oregon" is shorthand for the best of what we have to offer - - the beauty of the state, the inviting business climate, our tremendous products, and the friendly and welcoming people.
A new, aggressive ad campaign can be the key to introducing people to Brand Oregon, and establishing Brand Oregon is one big step towards reinvigorating Oregon's economy.
There is another reason why our moment of opportunity is arriving. Next year the Bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's expedition across America to Oregon begins. This is a time to celebrate the history and the spirit of Oregon, and it is a wonderful reason to invite visitors to come share this celebration with us. Such an event provides us a tool with which to market Oregon's history and culture, as well as its other amenities. Our 1% tourism fund would give us the ability to send out a Bicentennial invitation across America and to international tourists alike.
As my time comes to a close here, I would like to share one other idea with you. As I think about the big tourism campaigns within America, one particular campaign stands out with a valuable lesson. A regional campaign has helped bring about this domestic tourism fact - New England owns a season. When Americans think of traveling in the fall, inevitably they think of New England. New England owns a season.
Likewise, Florida owns spring break, and Colorado and the states of the Rockies own the winter. It's time to tell people what we here in Oregon already know - Oregon is the summer destination. If you can find a better state in July - visit it. I'm telling you, as the rest of the nation swelters in the oppressive humidity of summer, our weather can provide tremendous relief to them. The skies are clear, the temperature is moderate, and we don't have a humidity problem. A lot of people on the east coast have no idea that we don't have summer humidity. Perhaps we should tell them how good we have it. Plus we have so much to do outdoors - that is the great gift of this state.
Summer is just the time to take advantage of everything our state has to offer.
Tell people on the east coast and in the Midwest what we have, and work to own the season. Oregon will host summer vacation.
Now I'd like to take a few moments to honor five people who also believe in Oregon.
GOVERNOR'S TOURISM AWARD:
Each year, the Governor's Tourism Award is presented to an individual or organization that embodies a spirit of cooperation and statewide involvement in Oregon's visitor industry development. This year's recipient is so qualified, so impressive that it's difficult to capture the depth of his service to Oregon over the past quarter century.
Let's begin with his previous awards: he's received the American Express Great Performers Award; the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs Chairman's Award; the Distinguished Service Award from Portland's Metropolitan Human Relations Commission; the Governor's Freedom Award; the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Excellence Award in Community Service; the ASTA 2002 Travel Agent of the Year Award; and POVA's "Portland Award" to name a few of his 12 prestigious honors since 1989.
His community volunteer work includes serving on the boards of such distinguished organizations as the Portland Public Schools Foundation; the Museum at Warm Springs; the Portland Art Museum; the Japan America Society of Oregon; the National Conference of Christians and Jews; and the Portland Oregon Visitors Association. He also served in 1995 as an Oregon delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism, and currently co-chairs the International Air Service Committee that helped secure non-stop service on Lufthansa German Airlines between Frankfurt, Germany and Portland.
Through his leadership and tireless commitment to Oregon's tourism industry, the original TV series "From Oregon With Love" was aired in Japan in 1984, raising the awareness of the state as a travel destination, and lighting a fire under Oregon tourism professionals about the marketing opportunities in Japan.
He and his wife Loen also developed and executed the now-famous "Flight for Freedom" that took a thousand Oregonians to New York City in October 2001, right after the tragic events of September 11 effectively paralyzed the city's tourist industry. This event not only served to show the nation that New York was still a viable travel destination - it embodied Oregonians' spirit of compassion for others. For those in this room who joined the Flight for Freedom, it was an unforgettable, emotional, uplifting trip. For residents of New York City, the kindness shown by the Oregon delegation will never be forgotten.
By now you probably know I'm talking about the work of Mr. Sho Dozono, President and CEO of Azumano Travel in Portland. Having grown Azumano Travel from an agency with $1.5 million in sales in 1976 to $120 million in 2002, his business acumen is obvious. However, it is today that we celebrate and acknowledge Sho Dozono's immense contributions to the growth of Oregon's visitor industry with the 2002 Governor's Tourism Award. Congratulations, Sho - and thank you!
Michael Justin is next. Michael, even though the Tourism Commission is losing you as a dedicated commissioner, Crater Lake National Park couldn't be luckier to have you on their team to promote this national treasure.
Since joining the Commission in 1995, you have not only provided important expertise in the area of lodging and resort development, but everyone who has worked with you on the Commission now understands the importance of little white balls being hit all over really green grass by people in plaid clothing and white belts. Your championing of the "golf product" statewide has elevated everyone's interest in this high-yield niche market!
I know that Oregon's tourism industry will continue to work with you in your role at Crater Lake, particularly people in the Southern Oregon region. The State of Oregon values your contributions very much - thank you, Michael.
Amy Cuddy, what can a governor say about a person who has given 10 years of her life to help the Oregon Tourism Commission become smarter and wiser.
Your commitment to the commission since joining in 1993 has simply been astounding. You have not only had nearly perfect attendance at meetings but you have always shared your expertise on all things related to marketing and communications. The Commission's work simply would not be as good as it is without your stamp on it, and I truly thank you.
Your sense of humor and your sharp mind will be greatly missed by all who have had the pleasure of working with you - that includes Commission staff, fellow commissioners and the industry at large, particularly the Southern Oregon region which you so ably represented.
Amy, best wishes to you, and I thank you for your 10 years of dedication to Oregon, and especially this past year as the Vice Chair of the Oregon Tourism Commission.
David Zielke, before we let you leave the Tourism Commission, I have been asked to give you a short pop quiz on Oregon geography:
- How long does it take to drive from Portland to Grants Pass? (Hint: more than an hour.)
- Are there air traffic controllers at the Burns airport?
- Why doesn't Delta fly to Bandon?
- And finally, are we in Seaside or Lincoln City today?
Seriously, I want to let you know how much the State of Oregon appreciates your efforts since you joined the Oregon Tourism Commission in 1993. Your expertise in the aviation and international tourism arenas through Delta Air Lines, as well as your dedication to involving the industry in commission meetings, has truly helped the industry move forward in some challenging times.
The Commission staff has benefited from your openness, your willingness to listen and support, and your marvelous sense of humor! You will truly be missed as the chairman of the Commission - but I know we will continue to see you (maybe at professional baseball games in Portland?!) and work with you in the future.
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