Tourism commission awards local grants

The heavy summer travel period has passed, giving way to memories and archived photos.

Now tourism promoters get busy drumming up future business and touting the region's delights to the next wave of visitors.

"This is a critical time of year for our hospitality businesses, being the shoulder season," said Carolyn Hill, chief executive officer of the Southern Oregon Visitors Association. "Campaigns which seek to increase travel during those leaner months are incredibly important."

Those efforts got a boost this week when the Oregon Tourism Commission awarded $66,500 to 12 tourism development projects through its matching grants program. The selection committee pared down the list from a pool of 35 applicants from around the state.

"We're delighted to see that several Southern Oregon applicants received funding in this very competitive grant process," Hill said.

Mt. Ashland Association received $2,625, and Upper Rogue River Wine and Farm Tour picked up $4,702.

Up until now, the five-year-old Upper Rogue group, representing six wineries, has marketed primarily in its own backyard.

"It's time to branch out into the next closest big market to us," said Ruth Garvin of Cliff Creek Wines and Sams Valley Vineyard. "Northern Cal is an untapped market for us. We've submitted ideas in the past, so we're excited we were awarded this year."

Mt. Ashland Association is targeting the Redding, Calif., area, and its 90,000 inhabitants, with a $5,250 campaign, including $2,625 from Travel Oregon over a five-month period. Mt. Ashland will run banner ads on, the website of the Redding Record-Searchlight newspaper.

"The third most hits on the Ashland Chamber website come from Redding," said Mt. Ashland Association Marketing Director Rick Saul. "We know there is a lot of interest from the Redding market and people are familiar with our leisure services and reputation."

The goal is to leverage that reputation not only to get Shasta County residents on the ski slopes, he said, but to have them venture into Ashland for food and lodging.

A recent National Ski Areas Association survey indicates 13 percent of the skiers on the local hill stay overnight, meaning about 8,000 use local accommodations.

"We've set a target to get those overnight stays to 10,000 in the Ashland and Medford area," Saul said. "It's our off-season and we have the capacity."

It was Mt. Ashland Association's second matching award in three years.

— Greg Stiles

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